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Have you read the old fairy tale of the princess and the pea? In short, the Queen won’t let the Prince marry a young woman who claims to be a real princess unless she proves she is delicate enough to feel the pea that the Queen has placed under a stack of 20 mattresses that she sleeps on.
Now, I'm no princess, but that image has stuck with me for years. I have pondered, reflected, 'overthought' and felt a pea niggling me in relation to understanding my life experiences.
In 2019 when I did some serious work on making sense of my life experiences, I removed that pea. The pea had become a complete irritation and obsession; it confused me, unsettled me and held me back. I knew there was a reason that pea was there – I just didn’t know what it was.
The secret was finding a container for my thoughts. Instead of my reflections, confusions, obsessions and thoughts constantly seeping into my being, I created the Conscious Grit Model – the container for my thoughts.
I display the model as an equation:
Unconscious Grit + Tipping Point = Conscious Grit
The model's value is also shown as an equation:
stuck + tipping point = unstuck and unstoppable
Finding the container for my model has been a show stopper for me personally and my business.
Firstly, while I will never stop reflecting and being curious, I am at peace with making sense of my life experiences.
And more importantly, I now have a simple, understandable and robust model to do good in this world. I can now show others that it is very possible to get unstuck and be unstoppable. Barriers and obstacles can be worked around. Especially using the right brain capabilities of courage, balance, drive, adaptability, mental readiness and ethics.
I now use my experience of being dealt an 'unexpected crap hand' and subsequently being stuck to help others understand that being stuck is not a permanent state. That you can indeed decide that you are going to craft your own future – and act!
In my curious quest to understand, I wanted to know what it was about me that has guided me to have a good and productive life, despite facing a range of challenges.
The concept of owning our future was foreign to me at 22. I had been conditioned to make the best of what life presented. Now, I have the wisdom of hindsight, learning from deep reflection and a toolkit that I want to share; I present this in the form of the Conscious Grit Model. Others have written about grit; I've developed the terms unconscious and conscious grit.
In my model, individuals in the zone of unconscious grit are trying extremely hard but not getting anywhere. They are determined, tenacious, persistent, resilient and use ‘little c’ courage. But, they have given up thinking about themselves. And they have lost sight of the concept of maximising their potential. That was me at the age of 22 when my then husband and I were dealt what I choose to call ‘an unexpected crap hand’.
In the zone of unconscious grit, I didn't know what to do to change our circumstances for the better. I was determined to make the best of the situation. I went it alone; I didn't tell others how bad things were. I kept busy and did all the right things to keep life on an even keel. But in secret, I hoped that someone would notice and throw me the key to escape.
My readers resonate with this. They agree that you are trying hard when you are in the zone of unconscious grit. You are displaying a determination to hang in there. You have a day-to-day focus, and you make the best of the situation as though you are coping with the struggle, even when you think that you can't deal with it. You haven't given up; you're just beavering away to do what's instinctively right. You are courageous to a point. However, in this zone, you cannot own your future.
My experience of being in the zone of unconscious grit can be compared to swimming in treacle. It’s too hard to move. You can’t leave the treacle behind, and it sticks with you. It presents as sickly sweet, but it’s toxic. Each day is the same sticky slog of good intention.
But moving to the zone of conscious grit is the best thing I could have done. Once there, my persistence, resilience, tolerance and determination ramped up, fuelled by a growth mindset, goals, planning and more courage. I dealt with my limiting beliefs, learned to manage myself and those around me, controlling and crafting my responses to optimise outcomes.
I love this quote from The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien. "go back?' he thought, "no good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? The only thing to do! On we go! So up he got and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter". Of course, this is about Bilbo, but I have had that feeling a few times in my life.
My book Conscious Grit, from stuck to unstoppable, published in March 2021, is packed with tools that I've put together to help you learn from my experience. So don't stay stuck – own your future.
Gail’s course and book felt like a Brene Brown version of career and life coaching. Gail courageously shares her personal stories of challenge and vulnerability and applies the strategies and theory to these stories. Gail's course really resonated with me, as and embodies elements of feminist leadership rather than traditional patriarchal models of career, leadership and self-development. Gail generously shares her life and career experiences in a book and course that helped me feel safe to reflect on my own challenges, connect to the lessons and learn from her lived experience.
Testimonial January 2022
When: Mar 3 2022 9AM GMT+11
Hosted: Silvia Damiano, Founder & CEO, About my Brain Institute
Guest: Gail Eaton-Briggs, Author, Speaker, Thought Leader, Wedding and Funeral Celebrant
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This session will be presented in English. Captions with auto-translate to a language of your choice will be available in our YouTube Channel 72 hours after the event.
Gail is an i4 Neuroleader Practitioner, author, speaker, thought Leader and developer of bespoke people development solutions. Gail loves working with people; whether it be facilitating various processes, mentoring and coaching others or officiating at weddings and funerals as a Celebrant or providing motivation for personal growth through workshops and presentations.