Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was an American computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral. Grace Hopper joined the U.S. Navy during World War II, helped create the COBOL computer language and was instrumental in getting the COBOL system installed on our nuclear submarines. Grace had an edge over everyone else in the computer business because she believed that there was always a way to improve on the technology…and she did. Through her dedication, knowledge, and determination she took the world of computers to a new level. Think about how unusual it was for a woman to have the kind of job she did in the 1950’s and 1960’s, yet people listened to her because she had the technical skills, the vision and the grit to never give up on her ideas. Due to her reputation as a Computer Scientist and the highest ranking female Naval Officer, Grace earned the nickname “Amazing Grace.” (Adapted from: “Grace Hopper.” Famous Scientists. famousscientists.org. 8 Dec. 2016)
When I am asked to give the name of a leader that I admire, Grace Murray Hopper always comes to mind. She retired from the military at age 62 but when the Navy asked her to re-enlist, she did for another almost 20 years. That is amazing! While I do not know if I want to still be working that hard at almost 80 years old, I believe her perseverance (grit) all those years led to her success. We can learn quite a bit from Grace and many others like her that have the same attribute of grit and determination. Grit is literally defined as firmness of mind or spirit, and unyielding courage in the face of hardship. Isn’t that what it takes to be a leader even today? Whether sports, business or community leader, the sheer grit it takes to stand up and lead and unite a team when the “going gets tough” is amazing. That is why strong leaders stand out…grit. Think of any great leader in the past or perhaps someone you work with now. What makes them reach that legendary status is the hard times they have faced personally or professionally, the lessons they learned, their ability to pick themselves up and continue to persevere in the face of adversity, and somehow manage to still have a positive attitude despite the challenges. Never once have I met a leader of that caliber with an “entitlement” mentality, nor one that had simply been handed their position, fortune or fame. Every amazing leader I can think of has amazing GRIT. I propose that starting out this new year we should all refocus and be intentional about achieving our goals. May your grit abound in 2019.