Monthly Archives: March 2016

Four Truths about Grace, the Game Changer, Pt. 2



In my previous post, I introduced grace as a game changer, a truly remarkable gift that can transform our worldview and the quality of our relationships and life. Here are four truths I’ve learned on my journey with grace. They begin to set you free to be everything you’ve been created to be.

Four Truths About Grace

Truth #1 – Grace Removes the Pain of Judgment

In the context of ourselves, grace eliminates the illusion of perfection and illuminates the hopelessness of pursuing it. No one is perfect. We all know that in our deepest selves. Yet, we still allow the empty pursuit of perfection to cause pain in our lives.

Remember this simple relational equation: the degree to which someone fights to achieve perfection or appear perfect is inversely proportional to the amount of personal doubt they struggle with. The more energy and effort invested toward perfection, the more someone has already judged themselves unworthy of the mark. Pain and fear, not hope and peace, generate feverish energy toward perfection.

In the context of others, grace admits we don’t know why people do what they do. It shatters the fantasy that we can read people’s minds. Whew! What a relief to wake up from that nightmare.

We are so self-centered we think everything a person does is because of us. People are not doing things because of us; they are doing things because of who they are.

– Dr. James Richards (How to Stop the Pain)

Dr. Richard’s claim is hard to argue.  It’s human nature to assume we know why other people do what they do. It’s also natural to judge them and create pain in our own lives. Grace breaks this vicious cycle of self-induced pain.

Truth #2 – Grace Fuels a Growth Mindset

Grace brings freedom from the hopeless pursuit of ‘perfect’ and the pain-producing habit of continual judgment. Once free we can truly grow and engage life with new set of senses, seeing and hearing everything in a new, forward-looking light.

Disappointment and frustration dissipate as we recognize they occur in the gap between our unrealistic expectations (perfection) and the natural journey of growth and development. Grace allows us to give our ‘best’ day after day and see progress not failure.

Grace fully engages what Dr.Carol Dweck has identified as a ‘growth mindset’ and reveals the life-sucking, pain-producing trap of a ‘fixed mindset’. (If this is a new concept to you, read this short practice-oriented overview from Trevor Regan). With grace, life’s ‘struggles’ are really where joy is mined and refined in our journey.

Truth #3 – Grace Chases Away Fear

Grace is the antidote to fear. Grace removes the fear of not measuring up. ‘Measuring up’ is based in irrational comparisons and painful personal judgments.

Grace frees us from the fear of failure. The only failure becomes ‘giving up’ and the urge to give up comes from a fixed mindset and untrue beliefs about what growth and success are. Successful people try, learn (not fail), and try again. Grace accepts the natural ups and downs inherent with any growth cycle.

Truth #4 – Grace Builds Bridges

Grace creates confident humility within and an undeniable magnetism with others. Being around someone serving as a pipeline of grace generates life and hope. Grace brings positive energy to any room. Grace focuses on learning, not blame.

Grace within a community serves to galvanize and strengthen in ways that defy explanation. Ruby Bridges taught us that. No can achieve their dreams without the help and support of others. Grace is the mortar of rock-solid, life-giving relationships.

Grace is not soft and weak. It does not lower the bar of performance and make excuses for unacceptable behavior. The opposite is true. Grace requires more strength than judgment. Grace propels performance and innovation by removing fear and blame. Grace turns excuses into apologies and deepens respect and love. Grace changes everything.

Which of these truths resonates most with you and what you have experienced in your life?


Four Truths about Grace, the Game Changer, Pt. 1


Grace is a game changer. It is the source of a meaningful life and loving relationships.

Without grace, hope ceases and love is self-serving, lacking fulfillment. Without grace, relationships consist mainly of pain-inducing judgment and fear. As a result, we pursue acceptance through performance. We struggle daily trying to live up to the perceived expectations of others. We judge everyone in our lives and no one measures up. Everything is a competition. Life is exhausting.

Grace changes everything. Grace gives freedom. Grace drives out fear. Grace enables growth, grit, and long-term success.

DEFINED: Grace is the gift of undeserved, unexpected understanding and acceptance.

Grace gives people ‘super human’ emotional strength and resilience that literally changes the world. Ironically as I was working on this my wife and I watched Ruby Bridges with our four daughters (ages 2-10). Six-year-old Ruby and her family showed us the ‘super-natural’ power of grace.  Ruby’s life of grace changed an entire culture. (If you are unfamiliar of the story of Ruby Bridges, I highly recommend learning about her amazing strength, dignity, and grace.)

In my own life, I spent nearly a decade withholding personal grace, judging myself, striving to prove decisions from my past didn’t make me a loser. I woke every day determined to prove my value. Not surprisingly, my drive to prove myself produced ‘success’ on the surface. Yet, each time I reached the top of a ‘mountain of success’ it brought only temporary relief from the painful judgments I still held on to. Only when I embraced life-giving grace and began to learn how to stop judging myself and others, did I find freedom, maturity, and truly fulfilling success.

I’m still learning. I’m still ‘in process’. Through the process, though, I’ve learn four truths about grace that can transform our view of the world. I’ll share them in the next post.

Four Truths About Grace, The Game Changer, Pt. 2

How has grace or the lack of grace shaped your life and the way you think about yourself and others?

Live with GRIT – the Foundation for Long-term Success

If, as a parent, you could guarantee your child’s success in this frantically changing world, you would likely do almost anything, pay almost any price. Unfortunately, no such guarantee exists. No pill, procedure, protective bubble, or specialized program will equip your child for the world they’ll encounter today. So what can you do to help them succeed?

Start with asking that question to someone born prior to 1950. They will likely offer some sage, ‘outdated’ wisdom – “Work hard.”, “Finish what you start.”, “Put in a honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.” This ‘yesteryear’ approach to life and work is now labeled ‘grit’. ‘Grit’ is important because it is being identified as the single most important factor in a person’s ability to succeed in the 21st Century

Modern Look at Grit

 ‘Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.’ – Dr. Angela Duckworth


Angela Duckworth (Ph.D, UPenn), a member of a team of researchers who have been studying ‘grit’ and its powerful relationship to long-term success, can define and describe grit. Yet, she admitted to her TED audience she doesn’t have a clear answer for parents and teachers asking her how to teach to their children and students.

Duckworth cites Carol Dweck’s (Stanford University) research on the ‘growth mindset’ as a good start. (I highly recommend Dweck’s book – Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. It completely changed the vocabulary I use with my four girls.) Duckworth is right acknowledging the power of a growth mindset as a start of understanding and developing grit. But there is more.

Grit is not a talent or a skill. Grit is a lifestyle and an understanding. Grit is hard work. Grit is a four-step cycle that necessities growth and communication.

The GRIT Cycle

G – Grace

Grace fuels love, acceptance, and hope. Hope dies without grace. True success lives within hope. While Dweck has identified the positive symptoms of a growth mindset, she has failed to identify the root cause of the fruit. Grace gives life to growth and success (and the continual practice required for both).

R – Realities

Three realities exist in any situation – mine, yours, and a third, constructed, reality.

Ironically, neither my reality or your reality are actually ‘reality’. They are simply our limited and finite perception of the situation. Success through GRIT requires developing skills in constructing shared realities with those we work and live with. These shared realities will feed a vision for life bigger than both of our current realities.

I – Integrity

Without integrity collapse is imminent. This is true in engineering and success. Integrity is foundational to long-term success. If you don’t know where and how to stand you will ultimately fall and not be able to get up. GRIT requires a backbone of integrity.

T – Toughness

Starting is not as easy as sticking to something day after day, year after year. Thomas Edison conducted nearly 3,000 experiments with filament materials from around the world before finding his breakthrough with Japanese bamboo.

Equally tough is learning when to say, “No” or “We need to change course.” Admitting the current direction is wrong and making the necessary changes to correct course takes courage, strength, and toughness.

Toughness bookends grace in the GRIT cycle. Without toughness, long-term success is the impossible dream.

Lincoln’s GRIT Saved a Nation

Abraham Lincoln might be America’s greatest example of grit delivering greatness. They didn’t call it ‘grit’ in the 1800’s. If you’re not familiar with Lincoln’s journey to being the most important president in United States history, it’s worth learning. He experienced ‘failure’ and heartbreak more than seems fair for a single human. Yet with GRIT he became a person (leader) capable of holding together a nation poised for collapse.
You too can live with GRIT and lead yourself and your family to an abundant life full of deep, life-giving relationships.
Which part of the GRIT cycle do you find more challenging to live out on a daily basis? Leave your comment below.
Here’s Duckworth and team’s online survey for scoring ‘grit’ in their terms – check it out.