With technology disrupting every industry, political upheavals threatening global stability, and the climate crisis triggering catastrophes, we’re living at a time of huge challenges. But it’s also a time of great opportunity — to do good, to solve problems, to develop better ways of living.

To make that happen, we need to rethink what it means to have grit. 

In my unique line of work, I see every day just how huge the tasks ahead are. I’ve spent the past five years building Pink Petro, which is devoted to advancing the energy sector, including oil and gas companies. (I’m a former executive from two such companies, and live in Houston.) We’re pushing for greater gender equality and diversity, new technologies, and innovations to speed up the transition to renewable energies.

Yes, it takes grit — what the dictionary calls “firmness of mind or spirit,” and author Angela Duckworth describes as passion and persistence to achieve long-term goals. It’s a trait many of us developed when we were young. I know I did in high school, when I ran for office and lost six times before finally winning on the seventh try. The kids realized how serious I was and thought, “Wow, she really wants that job.”  Wanting something bad enough is good!

In this era, just sticking to a goal isn’t enough. The ground is shifting constantly, and we have to be willing to evolve. That’s why I now see GRIT as an acronym. It’s about growth, resilience, innovation and transition.

Every year, Pink Petro and our jobs site Experience Energy host the GRIT Awards. We celebrate women and men in energy who exemplify these traits. They include people making big new ideas happen and fighting for positive change in numerous ways, from empowering women in remote parts of the world to building new technologies that help fight climate change.

The people taking on these tasks are those who want to keep growing; who show resilience in the face of numerous obstacles; who innovate to make change happen; and who can help lead other people in the transition from old ways to new.

What grit feels like

How can you know whether you’ve got grit? In my new book Grow With the Flow, I explore what it feels like on the inside. 

To others, our grit looks like toughness — perhaps a steely gaze, an upright spine, a take-no-BS attitude. But internally, it’s something different: primarily, the ability to tune out noise.

On your path to success, you’ll be exposed to a lot of noise — the doubters, haters, naysayers, coattail-riders, and unsolicited advisers. The competitors who feel threatened by you. An the marketplace you’re in, or looking to enter, filled with prospects, customers, clients and vendors.

The pathway to success is noisy because it’s inherently social. But noise is distracting. At times, people will get under your skin. It may feel like they’re taking command of your emotions. If you’re not careful, you can lose days or even weeks processing what someone else said or did.

But if you see every experience as a chance to grow even more grit, you can turn those experiences on their heads. Everything that challenges you can help you grow and gain resilience. You can innovate to solve the problem, and transition to your next stage in which no one can hold you back.

Ultimately, the only way to manage that noise is to up your grit. Rather than being a reactor, you’re the one creating the reactions in others. With enough grit, you’re like a boulder in a storm. 

Weathering the storm

That image is particularly powerful for me. My family lost our home during Hurricane Harvey. We had to be rescued by good Samaritans in a boat. I lost my office as well. Coming through all that, rebuilding, and finding the strength to move forward took a level of grit my husband, daughter and I had never needed before. 

I know from experience that many people have more grit than they realize. You just might have a reservoir of strength that you have yet to tap into.

Use it to propel yourself forward. Pursue your next big goal — for yourself, your loved ones and society at large. Don’t give up. 

Why not shoot for the moon? With grit, you’ll see that anything is possible.