82 years ago today, on May 13, 1940 Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain. And it’s a good thing he did or World War 2 might have turned out very differently. He was the right man at the right time at a time in history that could have pivoted in a very bad direction had it not been for his leadership on the world stage.
He was a fascinating man and I would encourage you to read one of the many biographies that have been published about him (for example, this one).
One of the characteristics that defined his life and led to the incredible influence he had in history was his GRIT.
When you hear about Winston Churchill you generally hear about his inspiring speeches which emboldened Great Britain to “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never… give in.” But you usually don’t hear about the setbacks he had to deal with in his life.
- Financially – In August of 1929, having finally reached a level of financial independence, he invested heavily in the U.S. stock market. In October of 1929 when Wall Street crashed, he lost virtually everything.
- Politically – In 1931, after serving his entire adult life as a central figure in the British government, he was not invited to serve in the cabinet. This was a staggering blow to Churchill. He had been banished to the political wilderness. While Hitler was working full-time to build his war machine, Churchill, virtually the only British politician who saw the reality of Hitler’s threat, was put out to pasture.
- Physically – While touring New York City later that same year, he looked the wrong way while crossing a street and was hit by a taxi traveling at thirty-five miles per hour. The accident sent him to the hospital, clinging to life by a thread.
But the man had grit. In 1931 he was 57 years old. It would be another 9 years before his country would turn to him out of desperation. But he was ready.
Angela Duckworth defines grit this way:
Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals. One way to think about grit is to consider what grit isn’t. Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something. Instead, grit is about having what some researchers call an”ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.
James Clear says this about grit…
Grit isn’t about getting an incredible dose of inspiration or courage. It’s about building the daily habits that allow you to stick to a schedule and overcome challenges and distractions over and over and over again.
Mentally tough people don’t have to be more courageous, more talented, or more intelligent — just more consistent.
Grit comes down to your habits. It’s about doing the things you know you’re supposed to do on a more consistent basis. It’s about your dedication to daily practice and your ability to stick to a schedule.
And Scripture says this about grit…
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
Churchill was tagged with the nickname the “British Bulldog”. It was a reference to his ferociousness, tenacity and focus. It was a testament to his grit.
No matter what you might face in the days to come, my prayer is that you will face it with grit – to the glory and praise of God.
Never forget that you are very loved,