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Key Takeaways

  • Reflecting on past experiences, both positive and negative, can shape one’s future direction. Through introspection, one can derive patterns and values that guide future endeavors.
  • Resilience and commitment are essential to developing grit. Encouraging perseverance and intertwining commitment with identity can help bolster these traits. Regular family interactions can serve as platforms to reinforce these values.
  • Children should be exposed to incremental challenges, helping them draw connections between different achievements. Encouraging children to make these connections themselves is more effective than direct instruction.
  • Effective leadership requires audacity and risk-taking. To recover from inevitable failures, a blend of measured optimism and a growth mindset is crucial. This balance between hope and reality is pivotal for leaders.
  • Grit isn’t solely an individual trait; teams and organizations can embody it, too. In today’s rapidly advancing technological landscape, adaptability is key. Leaders should create environments where failures are seen as learning opportunities.
  • In negotiations, owning one’s story and being deeply present are crucial. Active listening, without premature judgments, can significantly influence negotiation outcomes.
  • Connecting with one’s individual purpose can enhance well-being and performance both at work and at home. This connection is so influential that companies emphasizing it tend to perform better. Discovering one’s purpose should be an intentional effort, not a mere accident.

Executive Summary:

Hey folks, welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Shannon Huffman Polson, a veteran, negotiation expert, author and the founder of The Grit Institute

In part A, Shannon discussed her unexpected journey into the military through ROTC at Duke University. She also highlighted the invaluable ‘make-it-happen’ mindset she acquired during her military tenure and how it bolstered her pursuits in academia, the corporate world, and nonprofit sectors. 

Additionally, Shannon discussed the true meaning of ‘grit’ and shared personal stories emphasizing its significance. We strongly recommend that you check out Part A before listening to this episode.

With that said, let’s jump right in.

Harnessing Life’s Lessons To Foster Grit And Purpose

Firstly, Aram asks Shannon about the practical exercises in her book to help individuals cultivate grit. The latter highlights that these exercises are part of two six-week online programs offered at the Grit Institute: ‘Going for Grit’ and ‘Paths to Purpose.’

One foundational exercise she details is called the “journey line.” It involves:

  • Drawing a line on a paper and marking significant events of one’s life, with positive events above the line and negative ones below
  • Going through each event and noting what was learned from it
  • Revisiting and assigning values to the lessons learned from each event
  • Looking for groupings in the values to find patterns

Shannon emphasizes the importance of reflecting on one’s past to understand life experiences’ raw material and shape one’s story moving forward. She believes individuals have both the opportunity and responsibility to use their life experiences to contribute positively to the world.

Embracing Challenges And Celebrating Failures As Pathways To Resilience

Shannon suggests the importance of teaching commitment and resilience when asked how to foster grit in children. She mentions that children should be encouraged to stick to tasks they’ve taken on, reinforcing that commitment by intertwining it with their identity. For instance, in her family, the mantra she uses is “Polsons show up, and Polsons do their best,” emphasizing perseverance, kindness, courage, compassion, and curiosity.

On that note, Shannon highlights the importance of family routines, like having dinner together every night, where values and challenges are discussed openly. She introduces the idea of embracing failure, inspired by Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. Sara’s father would ask her about her failures each week, framing them as learning opportunities.

Shannon strongly believes in giving kids incremental challenges and helping them draw connections between different achievements, allowing them to see the application of skills and lessons across various situations. Instead of lecturing, she recommends making observations that let children make the connections themselves.

Navigating Setbacks With Measured Optimism And A Growth Mindset

Moving on, Nolan asks Shannon about the strategies gritty individuals can employ to recover from setbacks and disappointments in leadership roles and continue pursuing their purpose. Shannon delves deep into the essence of mindset and audacity in leadership.

She mentions that good leadership inherently demands audacity, which encompasses making critical decisions, both apparent and subtle. By nature, audacious actions involve risks, and as a consequence, there are bound to be failures. Shannon reflects on Sarah Blakely’s father’s perspective: to fail is to push oneself adequately.

At the heart of overcoming setbacks, Shannon introduces two crucial components: measured optimism and a growth mindset. She envisions these as a triangle (representing the grit triad) enveloped in a circle, symbolizing the encompassing nature of mindset. 

Measured optimism is rooted in the Stockdale Paradox, which is maintaining an unwavering belief in eventual success while confronting current brutal realities. This equilibrium between hope and reality is pivotal for leaders.

Furthermore, the growth mindset emerges as a quintessential tool in navigating failures. It embodies the belief that one can learn, adapt, and improve after setbacks. Pairing a growth mindset with measured optimism can help leaders remain resilient, either trying a failed approach with learned insights or devising new strategies.

Nolan resonates with Shannon’s insights, drawing a parallel to a decisive point in a battle where achieving a certain result becomes the harbinger of ultimate success.

Nurturing Resilience And Adaptability In Modern Organizations

Aram observes that while grit often seems to revolve around individual determination, Shannon frequently mentions ‘we,’ suggesting that grit can also be a collective attribute within a team or organization. He asks Shannon how leaders can instill a culture of grit and what modern organizations, specifically in 2023, should do to nurture such a culture.

Shannon confirms that teams and organizations can indeed develop grit collectively, emphasizing the necessity of doing so in the current times. Given the rapid advancements in technology, particularly AI, adaptability emerges as an indispensable trait. Leaders, according to Shannon, should foster an environment where failure isn’t punished but rather seen as an avenue for learning and growth.

Instead of showcasing a facade of invincibility, leaders should be genuine about their setbacks, modeling vulnerability appropriately. This doesn’t mean revealing every detail but rather admitting to and learning from mistakes. Leaders can share instances where they had a plan or vision that didn’t work out as anticipated, encouraging open conversations about failures, learning, and finding collaborative solutions.

Once leaders start owning their failures while also celebrating others who demonstrate similar resilience, they can instill a culture that embraces adaptability. Organizations that can cultivate such a mindset centered around grit and resilience are better poised to thrive in a rapidly evolving landscape. 

Modeling vulnerability, celebrating adaptability, and working collectively are fundamental to fostering this environment.

Owning Your Story, Embracing Adaptability, And Mastering Active Listening

Next, Nolan seeks Shannon’s perspective on how a gritty mindset can significantly influence the outcomes of negotiations. While acknowledging that Nolan and his team are the experts in negotiations, Shannon shares insights based on her experiences and knowledge of the grit triad.

She highlights that the nuances of grit and resilience start with owning one’s story and connecting deeply with one’s core purpose. When it comes to negotiations, being deeply engaged in the present becomes crucial. Elements like audacity, adaptability, and authenticity are integral components. However, Shannon particularly highlights the importance of the mindset component of grit.

For negotiations, setting up a clear definition of success in advance is paramount. This foresight ensures one doesn’t waver or give up when faced with challenges or unfavorable situations during negotiations. 

Furthermore, Shannon accentuates the importance of team dynamics and active listening. To her, active listening, devoid of premature judgments, is probably the most pivotal skill for effective negotiations. Being able to genuinely listen and understand the other party’s perspective can make a significant difference in achieving desired outcomes. 

Additionally, maintaining a mindset geared towards success and being adaptable as situations evolve can be game-changers in negotiations.

The Cornerstone Of Grit And Pathway To Profound Engagement And Performance

On a similar note, Aram probes Shannon on her views regarding “purpose,” asking why it’s such a passion for her and why it’s crucial for individuals to understand and connect with.

Shannon highlights the importance of connecting with one’s purpose, referencing it as a part of the commit phase and the base of the grit triad. From her experiences and client interactions, coupled with studies by firms like McKinsey, she notes that many people felt disconnected from their purpose during events like COVID. 

When individuals connect with their unique purpose before connecting to a broader organizational or collective purpose, they experience benefits like longer job tenure and increased engagement at work, leading to improved performance.

The direct correlation between one’s connection to purpose and well-being at home and work becomes evident. Companies that understand and prioritize this connection tend to perform better, making it something employers can’t ignore. For this reason, the Grit Institute focuses on helping individuals discover their purpose.

Aram resonates with Shannon’s insights, adding that his teachings emphasize that purpose should be “intentionally formulated, not accidentally discovered.” Shannon agrees wholeheartedly, emphasizing the importance of doing the foundational work to understand purpose before diving deep into its applications. 

She believes that a purpose found by accident might not resonate deeply and could lead to misalignment among the parties involved. Both seem eager to discuss and share more insights on the topic outside the formal conversation.

Shannon, Aram, and Nolan discuss more on this episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. Write to us at team@negotiatex.com and share your thoughts on this informational podcast episode.

Thank you for your time!


Nolan Martin : Hey everyone, thanks for joining us on the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Shannon Huffman Polson, founder of the Leadership Institute called the Grit Institute. If you haven't already checked out part A of the show, be sure to do that first.

Let's jump into the conversation with Shannon.

Aram Donigian : One of the things I really appreciate are the practical life-exercises you have at the end of each chapter that readers can use to cultivate and develop their own grit and their personal and professional lives. Do you mind walking us through one and we'll try our best to kind of follow along, but just to give a flavor of what those exercises look like?

Mapping Your Grit: Transformative Exercises For Personal Growth (01:17)

Shannon Polson : Yeah, absolutely. These exercises are what in part make up aspects of the two different programs that are currently available at the Grit Institute. They're both six weeks, they're both online, video and workbook supported. One of them is called ‘Going for Grit’ and that follows along with the book. So it's very much like your online course that accompanies the book.

And the other one is ‘Paths to Purpose’. And both of them actually start with an exercise that I'll share with you today. And I know this is one that I have heard, you sometimes may come across at West Point, but I think we take it a little bit further and tweak it just a little bit differently. And that's the very first one that I think every person has to start out with. And Nolan [inaudible], which transition out of the military, I think it's the first place to start as well.

And that's going back and looking at what at Intuit they call your journey line or other places might call it your lifeline. And you sit down with a piece of paper. I have a big fan, it's got to be paper and pencil or paper and pen and make a line and then write down the events in your life that are significant. And nobody's going to judge this. There's nobody's going to have an opinion on this except for you. So you get to decide what's significant positive events go above the line, negative events go below the line.

So, start with that. That's the first time through your line, through your journey line. I like the concept of the journey because this is about the journey. The second time through, you start to go through those positive and negative events and write down something that you learned as a result of the positive event or the negative event. So under each event you write down something that you've learned.

This is something that is ideally you give yourself some time to sit with and maybe even then return to a few days later and then a few days later because it's something you want your brain to work on in the back of your consciousness. Then go back to a third time and assign values to each one of those things that you learned. So whether it's positive or negative, it may be more than one value. Assign a value that's a lot more general than the specific thing that you learned. And then you're going to go back a fourth time through and you're going to look for value groupings. So if you look over the course of your life and you look at these more general values that you've identified, can you put those in groups that have likenesses?

And so those four times through that journey line help you to really interrogate it in a meaningful way. Now the next steps are then to take that and then decide how it is you're going to shape your story going forward. That's the next step. But that first piece allows you to say, okay, no matter what's happened in our lives and all of us have this raw material to work with, right? Some of it we think we've earned probably also got a little lucky.

Some of it we've asked for, some of it we would never ask for in a million years, like that phone call and everything that are represented in my life. But we still have this raw material that we have to work with and that we have to work with. And it seems to me that we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to be able to take that raw material and shape it in the direction where we can best contribute in the world.

And so this journey line exercise, going through that journey line four times, that's at the end of the first chapter of the Grit Factor, as you know, is a great place to start. And in fact, I think the necessary place to start in that what we ultimately call the grit triad, but that's the base, that's the commit phase.

AD : I love that exercise as a follow-up. You have two children, how do you teach grit? And I have six kids, I have four daughters, two sons.

NM : He's busy.

AD : How do we teach grit to our kids? So at least they have a foundation for when we launch them out there into the world.

Raising Gritty Kids: Strategies For Fostering Perseverance And Courage (04:46)

SP : Yeah. That is the million-dollar question. I get this all the time, of course I'm not a child psychologist, but as a mom, I think as parents we all are at the same time. So one of the things, and this is in Angela Duckworth's book, she'll recommend it in her one chapter on parenting, and we are big fans of this as well, is that making sure that you stick with something so you don't get to sign up and quit. You sign up and you show up. And I always like to say, you can actually make this part of their identity. Like I say, Polsons show up and Polsons do their best.

So that's integrating the identity. This is the parental identity that we're giving to our kids and they're Polson’s. So there you go. So Polson’s show up and Polsons do their best also. Polsons are kind and they're courageous and they're compassionate and they're curious. So you think about those values and then make that part of their identity. So Polsons do hard things. We do hard things. That's what we do as a family.

When things get hard and you talk about it not just in the moment of challenge, but you talk about it separately as like a values conversation or a dinner table conversation. By the way, have dinner together every night no matter what, right? That's just non-negotiable in our family. We have dinner together, we say grace, we have conversation. There are no devices, there is no anything else at the table. It's just us at the table. And in the course of that, we say things like, “Hey, that was really hard today, Polsons do hard things.”

And something that we are starting to borrow from, and I love this story actually, I just read it again recently from Sara Blakely who is the founder of Spanx, who is just fabulous. If you don't know her story, you've got to learn it. But she said her dad came home every week and said, where did you fail this week? And I mentioned this to my son who's 13. He's like, well, that's depressing. And I was like, it's not depressing because he'd be upset if you hadn't failed. You have to push yourself hard enough that you're failing and then you say, okay, that didn't work. Now how do I change things so the next time I get better or the next time I do better?

And so that's an opportunity to have that conversation too. Something we can do in our families and at the workplace. All of those I think are great places to start. But the other thing is incremental challenges. That's the biggest thing I think with kids is give them incremental challenges and then help them to see how what you learned in one thing can be applied to another thing and they will start to make those connections themselves as well. But you could even just ask the question.

They never liked the lectures. Just say, oh my gosh, look at how you just really worked through that. That kind of reminds me of what you did when you were doing that Lego puzzle. And then you just notice. Just notice and let them make the connection. So I think all of those are ways that we are working on it, but it's a constant challenge. It's never ending.

AD : I love it. I love it. I'm going to integrate that along with doing a little journey line for myself. So, thanks for the guidance there for both the parent, the adult or professional as well as for how we guide the next generation, get a more gritty generation coming.

SP : Well, Aram, the other thing is we've just designed going for grit for junior high and high school kids and classes and cohorts. This was actually in partnership with another organization. It's designed to be all fully in-person, 45 to 60 minutes a day with a cohort at school. So that is available at the Grit Institute as well. And I am super excited about it because we really pulled in all kinds of different learning modalities, communication skills, hard conversations, the whole thing. And it's pretty exciting that we're going to start to work to deploy that now out to the younger generation as well.

AD : That is wonderful. Great.

NM : That is exciting. So Shannon, can you share a story or anecdote from someone you've worked with who was able to apply the principles of grit in their life and experience transformative results?

Purpose Unleashed: Stories Of Grit, Transformation, And Unbounded Potential (08:18)

SP : Yeah, this is always hard to get people to really share these things, right? There's a couple of examples that come to mind. The first one is a technology leader, a woman technology leader who had been in her role in her space for about 15 years and she reached out and wanted to run the executive education of ‘Paths to Purpose’ in her organization. So we did this all virtually. This was actually just I think after COVID started or maybe kind of in that fall when we were starting to figure out the virtual world. And so we ran it virtually. And what I loved at the end of that training is although she had deployed that to her team and her leadership group.

At the end of it said, I've been in this space for 15 years, more than 15 years, and I have never, -this was both doing the storyline exercise, but going into, so then some of the purpose exercises as well, specifically the five why's and the way that we run people down and really drill down to something agnostic of their organization, agnostic of their job, said, I have never ever understood that's the reason that I show up. That's the reason that I'm here. It just gave me so much more energy to be able to approach all of these challenges and all of this change that is coming at that point, it was a change in COVID and technology. There was a huge, huge shift in how things were working and that was so amazing to hear.

The second example I would give you is actually somebody from the Tuck school, actually a veteran who went through the ‘Paths to Purpose’ training as well. And he sent me an unsolicited LinkedIn message, and I am not a particularly emotional person, but I actually started to get teary and just got the chills. And he said, I'm only a week into this program. And he was, I mean, he's a phenomenal person. We're still connected on LinkedIn and I'm watching what he's doing and it's just amazing what he is doing post-service in the world. But he said, I had TBI from my time in service, I had some PTSD and I had been defining myself by a lens of limitations. And he said, one week into the program, you have completely transformed me, his testimonials on my website. He gave me permission to use it thankfully, because he says, I now understand that I can look at myself through the lens of possibility.

And it's been completely transformational. And I absolutely love to hear that because that it's hard work to do. It's work that all of us need to do. And I'm so grateful when I have the chance to be part of somebody's journey where they can then pivot to a place where the, he is now making incredible contributions in this world, and that's what it's really all about, is helping each other out and lifting each other up so that we can get out there and do what the world needs.

AD : And what I hear in that story too is almost freeing myself up to be compassionate with myself. I think that's hard for us. It's certainly hard for us sometimes for those of us that have been in uniform. Can you say a little bit more about the role that self-compassion plays in the development of grit and how individuals can avoid burnout or excessive self-criticism while striving to achieve their goals?

Exercising Self-Compassion Through Grit And Preventing Burn-out (11:15)

SP : Yeah, Aram, I'm glad that you asked that. If I had to do anything different in the Grit Factor, it would be to add some elements of that. And I hope that some of it is part of the stories that are told, but it is awfully hard. We all push ourselves so hard, and when the environment is not receptive to our being there and contributing, that doesn't mean that we push ourselves any less hard or give ourselves a break. And so that is such an important piece that we are, I would actually jump ahead to my chapter three of the Grit Factor, where we really look at the grit triad. I'm going to back up completely and give you the full picture.

The grit triad is to commit, learn, and launch. Commit is this deep understanding of our past. We have to do that work, then we have to learn, we have to do this deep engagement in the present. And then finally, we have to launch, which is grounded in the past, engaged in the present, looking towards the future. On that second leg, that learning leg, the first step is to build our teams, and I'm bringing this up here because I think that sometimes when we can't be compassionate enough with ourselves, the team that we build around ourselves, which is likely to include an intimate, might be a spouse or a partner or a very good friend, there might be a colleague in the next level out. We kind of walk you through those different roles in chapter three, of the Grit Factor.

Talking to those trusted advisors that your own personal board, however it is that you want to think about that, can help you to be redirected towards some self-compassion. And I think that's an important thing. Connect with people that are important to you. They can both give you the poke in the tail when you need it, but they can also say, Hey, hey, you're doing everything you can. Maybe you need to just take a little bit of a break right now and kind of give you that honest feedback, which is really important.

The second thing is, and this was in the most recent installation of Facing the Wind, which is my newsletter on Substack. We looked at rest and the importance of rest, and that is the chapter that I wish I had included in the Grit Factor, because you can't do this. Grit is not a sustainable operating mode. Just write that down. Grit is critical, but it is not a sustainable operating mode. So you've got to rest, and rest comes in daily rest, whether that's prayer or meditation, whether that is just some quiet reading time, whatever that is, making sure that you block that off and you keep that every day. That's pretty hard with six kids, really hard with two kids, really hard with a dog and a cat, right? It's just hard to make that time.

And then the weekly rest, we talk about the Sabbath, right? In different faith traditions, but also if it's just a day a week where you just chill, whatever that means to you, it's really important to have that as part of your weekly rhythm and then again, part of the annual rhythm as well to block off that time and not take your computer and not do any work. And if you can do that, you're going to be grittier. You're going to be able to handle change and challenge a lot more effectively. And so that's the chapter that I wish was in, the Grit Factor, that is not. And so I'm really grateful that you asked that question on self-compassion.

AD : Thank you for that. I think you look at our military, the high-op tempo, we reward leaders who never stop. We go just as fast when we're back home in Garrison as we were doing in combat. And I think we churn through people sometime in a needless way. So this idea that grit is not a sustainable operating mode, necessary, important, we've got to build it and we need to also provide ourselves with some rest and self-compassion. Powerful.

SP : Absolutely. Yeah.

NM : In leadership, setbacks and failures are common. How can individuals with grit bounce back from disappointments and discouragement and continue to pursue their purpose?

Growth Mindset, Measured Optimism: Navigating Challenges With Resolute Leadership (14:44)

SP : That is a really important one. This gets into the end of the second leg of the grit triad, and we're going to look at mindset. And it also gets into that last leg of launch, which is the audacity piece. I think that they're really kind of hand in hand in part because leadership requires audacity. Good leadership requires audacity. That might be in small things and how you're taking care of your people that nobody might ever see. And it might be in big things like making a pivot or making a change or adding something onto a portfolio or selling off a part of a portfolio, whatever it is, there are audacious decisions that are required of a leader and they're hard to make, and there are lowly decisions because really the leader has to be the one to make them.

And that requires risk if you're going to be audacious, and to risk means that you're going to sometimes fail. If you're risking appropriately, you're going to sometimes fail. Remember Sarah Blakely's dad, right? Asking you at home every week, where have you failed this week? If you haven't failed, you haven't pushed yourself hard enough, where are you failing?

And so that is a really important thing. And yet it's really tough for those of us who have been rewarded again and again for being as good as we are at what we do at executing. And most of us have found ways to be really excellent at that. And so the key to that, I'm going to start with the mindset piece. The mindset is so important that it surrounds the grit triad. So we have a triangle inside of a circle, and I like to think of that circle that surrounds the triangle of the grit triad as the mindset of measured optimism.

But there's a couple of other pieces that are in that mindset piece as well. And this has actually really evolved over the last couple of years as I've talked to clients facing a number of different challenges that are either COVID related or supply chain related, or any of the things that are now the pace of cage and technology is another piece, looking at the mindset of measured optimism where you know have, this is the Stockdale Paradox, absolute and complete faith that you will ultimately prevail in the end, balanced with the brutal realities of what you face in the present. And that balance is the key. And a leader must hold that imbalance. You can never ever doubt for a minute.

You can't indicate doubt for a minute that you will ultimately prevail in the end. Now that might require that you make some adaptations along the way, this path might fail, so you take a different path, but you're going to get to here and there's a longer conversation around that. But that measured optimism or grounded optimism is really key to that.

The other part of it is the growth mindset. And the growth mindset is sort of sometimes oversold and sometimes it's undersold, but it's a really critical part of that risk taking performance, which is to say that, “Hey, when I fail, I can get up and I can do better. I can do better. We can always do better. I'm going to learn from my failures and be able to adjust.” So that growth mindset connected with that mindset of grounded optimism or measured optimism is really what ultimately leads us to be able to get up every time we get down and say, we're going to get up, we're going to try another path.

We're either going to run at that cinder block wall again until we get it, or we're going to find a way around it. One way or the other we're going to use that growth mindset knowing we learn from failures and that mindset of measured optimism to know that we will ultimately prevail. And you have to have that to be able to execute on that grit triad.

NM : Yeah, whenever you just said that made me think of decisive point in battle, that point at which you achieve some certain result, then you know that you're going to be successful. And so yeah, love that.

AD : So much of this feels like it's kind of individually focused dogged determination, and yet I keep hearing you say ‘we’. So I feel like there's this strong implication that grit can be and ought to be a collective or team-based quality.

So how does a leader create that culture of grit? And as you worked with organizations, if you were to lay down the gauntlet to organizations today in 2023, what do organizations need to be doing to foster a culture of grit that really empowers their employees?

Leading Through Change: Cultivating Grit And Adaptability In The Modern Workplace (18:39)

SP : Yeah, yeah, there's a lot of things, but I'm going to start with that. Number one, you're absolutely right. You can absolutely develop grit in teams and organizations, and it's critical to do that, especially now, you know that the end of that grit triad, that last chapter in the Grit Factor ultimately leads up to adaptability. And there has never been a time in history. I know everyone always says that, but it's actually true right now. When we've had to be more adaptable, the pace of AI specifically is going to outstrip anything that any of us can even anticipate. So adaptability is key along with that measured optimism.

And so, part of what you need to do as a leader and all leaders need to be doing is developing that adaptability in their teams in part by creating an environment that permits for failure. And I think a leader can do that. We talk a lot about being vulnerable. I don't think being vulnerable means at all, laying everything out, laying your soul bare at your company meetings. That's not what we're talking about.

But what we are talking about is being honest to model vulnerability in our failures. Like, “You know what, guys, I tried this out. I thought this was going to work for us and it hasn't worked and I'm disappointed, but I can see that I'd like to get all of your input on because we want to involve people that maybe we need to try a different tact, we need to try another path.”

And model that vulnerability where you own that failure and you own the path forward, or you are working collaboratively to find a path forward. And in that ownership and in that modeled vulnerability as well as in celebrating others who do the same and maybe you encouraging others to do the same. I think you can really build that tolerance for both failure and that culture of being able to adapt when things aren't quite working out the way you thought they were going to do, or maybe there's a whole new piece of information now or a whole new capability that's going to be likely what we're adapting to more than anything else.

That means that we need to pivot and we need to adapt to make a change. And so really being able to develop that culture is going to be a critical thing for companies that are going to be able to succeed and adapt in the world that is changing as fast as it is today. And that is absolutely grit and resilience. So that's modeling, right? And that's celebrating. Modeling and celebrating and doing that together as a team I think is really going to work well for folks. A number of other things as well, but I would start with that.

NM : We haven't asked any direct questions about negotiation, leaving to our listeners to make the connection to how grit can help them elevate their influence. Could I ask you one very pointed question about how you think a gritty mindset might benefit negotiators in achieving more favorable outcomes?

Purposeful Negotiations: Active Listening And Adaptability For Unmatched Success (21:14)

SP : Yes. Well, you all are the negotiation experts. I remember that being a really difficult, actually psychologically difficult class at Tuck, and I'm so incredibly grateful for it. My father was an attorney and I remember debriefing with him after I was crushed in one of them. He was specifically a negotiator. So yeah, so I think that the piece that I would really key in on as we talk about the grit triad, and again, these nuances of grit and resilience.

You've owned your story and you've connected to your core purpose. We didn't get as much into the purpose, but I'm really passionate about that. So you've owned that, this deep engagement in the present, which I think is really where you're going to really live in terms of the negotiation piece. And then of course, audacity and adaptability and authenticity are all part of it. But I would say I would focus in on the mindset piece that we just talked about and that mindset that we're going to prevail.

How you define success, I think is important to do in advance because that may be different for any given negotiation or any given team, but understanding that you're ultimately going to prevail, so you're not going to give up because things got tough or because like I did in negotiation class at Tuck, you got crushed. You're going to continue to work with people. That team piece, the second part that is part of the grit triad that comes after building your team is actually active listening. And I have to think that that is probably the most important skill in being able to negotiate very well, is to be able to listen truly actively without jumping to judgment.

We spend an entire chapter on that in the grit factor, and then ultimately that mindset for success, that mindset for success, and continuing to adapt as the situation changes. So I would say that second leg of the grit triad is the most important for successful negotiations.

NM : Awesome, thank you.

AD : You mentioned we didn't ask you and dig in a lot about purpose. Would love for you to say just a word or two about why that is such a passion for you and so critical for us to take a moment to consider.

Benefits To Activating Purpose With Further Engaging Quality Of Life, Work, And Thrive For Community (23:08)

SP : Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, so the purpose is part of this commit phase, right? Part of the base of the grit triad. And the reason it has become a particular passion in the last couple of years is in part from my own experience, but also talking to clients and seeing all of our collective experiences validated by the studies. There's several that were done by McKinsey, looking at our connection to individual purpose being both lacking right now. Throughout COVID, people really discovering that they were lacking this connection to individual purpose and finding that when we take the opportunity to connect to individual purpose, this is somewhat antithetical and somewhat not totally antithetical, but it sort of precedes our purpose in the military, right? You've got to connect to your individual purpose first.

So, even if you're working at a pharmaceutical company and you're connecting to saving lives or you're working at a sustainable construction company and you can connect to this greater purpose. Before you connect to that greater purpose, you've got to connect to your own. And in those McKinsey studies, it showed both the employees that were connected to their own purpose have greater longevity at their jobs, which is pretty critical in the current work environment, but they also have greater engagement while they're at work, which translates to better results as well and better performance on the job.

And so that connection to purpose where we may feel innately is so important and maybe it's been lacking and maybe we're looking for it in some way or another, also directly translates to our health and wellbeing at home and at work and our performance at work. And so it's something that employers can't afford to take for granted, and that is why ultimately at the Grit Institute, we develop paths to purpose is because we wanted to look at purpose in both very targeted ways, in broad ways, in deep ways, and ultimately allow people to then individualize the findings of that and find ways to activate and integrate that into their jobs. Because when they do that, ultimately the performance of the company goes up.

So, really critical for our own wellbeing, but also for the wellbeing of our companies that we work for and contribute to.

AD : An expression I use in my class. I talk about purpose, particularly around the importance of purpose driving multi-party negotiations, is this idea that purpose needs to be intentionally formulated, not accidentally discovered.

SP : Ah, yes, yes, absolutely. Yeah, I could not agree more with that. Yeah, exactly. I think you've got to do the work upfront before you get into the weeds to be able to formulate what that purpose looks like. Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more. I don't even know what an accidentally discovered purpose would be, but it's not going to be the right one. It's not going to be well enough to find and certainly not going to be resonant enough among the parties or among an foreign individual. So yeah, I love that you bring that up and offline, I'd love to hear some of those.

AD : Well, I'm sure your path to purpose program takes it a lot further and does a lot better job, and I listen, we encourage folks to go read your book and just take on that challenge that I certainly found, and as we get kind of ready to wrap up, I'm going to first say, thanks so much for being with us.

Your 20th is coming up, my 15th is also in October, so maybe our paths will cross around Reunion time at Tuck. What final message or words of encouragement would you have maybe specifically for service members and veterans who are looking to develop their grit as a leadership quality?

The Innate Quality Of Grit And The Ability To Elevate Through Trusting The Process (26:27)

SP : I would say trust the process. Again, going back to our original conversation, Nolan, your original question, so trust the process. Know that it is something that you can develop. First of all, it's something that is innate to every single one of us, right? If you were the combat pilot or the Army Ranger or whatever, frontline tip of the spear, sort of a job might claim grit for themselves, know that grit is innate to every single one of us. It's not just for the Special Ops guys and the Navy Seals and the Army aviators or the Navy jet pilots. It's innate to every single one of us, and it's something that can be developed and it's something we can kind of lose touch with, but it's something that we can regain and that we can continue to grow and develop, so have faith in that.

I hope that you will try out both the Grit Factor as well as the trainings at the Grit Institute that will be an investment in yourself, and at the end of the day, developing that grit and resilience is an investment. It's an investment in yourself and an investment in your family and an investment in your community, and all of those are pretty important for all that it is that we're facing today and that we will certainly face in the future.

AD : Thanks, Shannon.

NM : Shannon, thank you so much for joining us today. I'm going to kick it over to Aram for any closing thoughts

AD : So much here. I think I am going to pick on maybe modeling and celebrating grit if we really want to build it. I think that goes back to some of the things you're saying about building it in our families, certainly within our organizations, our teams. I think about my classroom at Tuck, how can I both model and celebrate examples of grit? I think that's a great challenge for me. And then everything else, go read the book. It's powerful. Thanks for taking the time. You're just marvelous. So thanks.

NM : Well, thanks for joining us on today's podcast. If you haven't already, please rate review and subscribe to NEGOTIATEx podcast and we'll see you in the next episode.

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