Another day, another injury. In this instance, the result of a perfectly timed drop seoi nage which I was the beneficiary of. The resulting head clash caused the eye to swell but this was the least of my worries. The real issue was the sprain in my shoulder’s AC joint, and I had already recovered from two grade 1 sprains in 2015. Sure enough, the physio confirmed my suspicion and the prescription was 6 weeks rest and then light training.

Injuries are disappointing, but something I have learnt to accept. They are part of my chosen sport and no matter how careful I am, injuries are something that I must be mentally prepared for. At my age (43), they also take longer to heal and rehab is part of the process.

Growing up in New Zealand, sport is very much part of my DNA. The result is 3 broken wrists, one broken collarbone, a fractured shoulder blade, torn abductor, bruised bones and numerous sprains. However, in the words of Ryan Holiday ‘The Obstacle Is the Way’.  Obstacles are a natural part of any endeavor in life, be it sport, work or any other life domain. The capacity to both accept and deal with the obstacles that come our way defines our success.

A psychological construct that helps define our capacity to deal with life’s challenges is grit: “a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective”. The big name in the field of grit is Dr. Angela Duckworth whose TEDTalk on the topic has been viewed well over 8 million times. The reason grit is such a hot topic is that in the world of performance grit is one of the defining characteristics. Whether it is a new psychological construct or simple an old term with a new definition is not relevant. What is relevant is that the ability to persevere and tough it out through the obstacle for a long-term goal; a trait that has undeniable application for individuals wanting to maximize their potential.

Combining grit with the realisation that obstacles are part of the journey helps one to take a positive attitude to the challenges that are a part of life. Rather than being despondent about yet another challenge, it is an opportunity to further strengthen oneself and develop the required skill sets to perform at an even higher level.

While sport has been a great teacher of grit for me personally, my greatest challenges have certainly come from business.  For my property business, I have dealt with two major earthquakes, credit squeeze through the GFC and a multitude of tenant issues. 20 years with OPRA, that has seen us expand from a single office in New Zealand to a multi-national business, has been a seemingly never-ending process of challenges. Academically, I went from a 13-year-old in remedial learning classes to a PhD scholarship recipient. None of this makes me particularly special. Rather, I owe my success to being fortunate enough to be faced with challenges that in turn enabled me to grow and further reach my potential.

My injury, like most challenges, is now behind me. I’m back on the mats a little wiser, having both better refined my defense to the drop seio nage as well as strategic attacks. As much as I may like to think that this will be my last injury, I’m fairly confident that this will not be the case. Likewise, I’m sure I have plenty more academic and business challenges ahead of me as I do my best to reach my goals. The obstacles, however, are simply training grounds. The grit that has shaped my past will be the same grit that I call upon to help me. The two are intertwined and both crucial to realising potential.