True Grit: Harnessing Strengths and Resilience to Be Your Best Self

Mar 10, 2020

True Grit: Harnessing Strengths and Resilience to Be Your Best Self
(Published by Natural Awakenings Hawai'i July 2019)
by Lani Kwon, MA, RYT 


I believe in intuitions and inspirations…
I sometimes FEEL that I am right.
I do not KNOW that I am.

––Albert Einstein


     There is a John Wayne movie called True Grit, based on the serial novel by Charles Portis and loosely on the life of a Deputy U.S. Marshall named Heck Thomas, who brought in some of the worst outlaws in the Wild West. Wayne stars as U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, who is hired by a young woman, Mattie Ross, to find the man who murdered her father. In this story, “true grit” is the quality of never giving up in spite of the numerous obstacles faced. It’s what allows all heroes, no matter what age, experience or background, to succeed over the long haul.

     Fortunately, most of us in the modern world don’t have to face down murderers or rattlesnakes, but if we are seriously considering pursuing our callings, there are several important strengths that we must develop in order to overcome short-term obstacles and persevere. According to Getting Grit: The Evidence-Based Approach to Cultivating Passion, Perseverance, and Purpose by Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP:

…(Angela) Duckworth’s definition of grit gives us clues about what we need to cultivate, including passion, resilience, and determined focus. But I believe we also need to take a look at the quality of our relationship skills, the prevalence of positive emotions in our lives, and our storehouse of willpower, among other elements, to develop the more well-rounded, authentic grit. In my studies of gritty people, I’ve noticed that many of them have other critical qualities such as patience and curiosity, not to mention humility, an endearing quality that can attract the enthusiastic support of those that help them with their dream over many years.

     According to Miller, “grit” isn’t just about going on no matter what, but rather cultivating character traits that allow us to achieve our goals. In addition to the qualities Miller lists––passion, resilience, determined focus, relationships, positive emotions (such as hope and love), willpower, patience, curiosity, humility and the ability to attract supporters––I would also add the ability to utilize both intuition and logic.

     I have worked as a transformative life coach for more than fifteen years and in that time, I have had hundreds of clients with different challenges and goals. The common denominator in all of these coaching relationships is the need to persevere in order to make changes in life that are sustainable. The ability to persevere (or to be downright stubborn) is definitely bolstered by the ability to use all of one’s innate abilities and also to develop new strengths.

True Grit Exploration

  1. How have you coped with some disappointments in your life? What is your usual coping strategy (such as avoidance, confrontation or humor) when dealing with painful situations?
  2. Were you able to get back up again and keep on going after a setback? Or are you still wounded and needing support?
  3. Which of the strengths do you already have? Place a star next to these. Which can you develop further? Place a check mark next to those.

____ Passion                               ____ Willpower          ____ Resilience

____ Determined focus                ____ Curiosity            ____ Patience

____ Relationships                      ____ Humility and the ability to attract supporters

____ Feeling and expressing positive emotions (such as hope, love, etc…)

____ Ability to utilize both intuition and logic

  1. How can you utilize your signature strengths better now that you know what they are?
  2. How can you continue to develop abilities that are not yet as strong?


Miller, Caroline Adams, MAPP. Getting Grit: The Evidence-Based Approach to Cultivating
Passion, Perseverance, and Purpose. Boulder, Colorado: Sounds True, 2017, 20.

Lani Kwon, MA, RYT supports people in achieving their highest potentials, specializing in transformation and life re-design through her company, Creating YOUR Calling, LLC. She is working on a book, Creating YOUR Calling: How to Discover Your Authentic Life Mission, due to be published in 2021. Lani trained with the international coaching school, Newfield Network (2011-2012) and Dr. Robert Holden’s Coach Camp (2016) and has been a member of the International Coach Federation since 2006. She is also currently a faculty member at Happiness U and Still & Moving Center. For more information, visit

Contact Lani at [email protected] for more information.