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Grit. Grind. Goal: The journey to success

by Candace Silas, director, Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) and Pipeline for the Advancement of the Healthcare Workforce (PATH) programs at Lincoln Land Community College 
Candace Silas

In the grand journey that is life, few paths are as transformative and rewarding as the pursuit of higher education. College serves as the hub where dreams are forged into reality, and the journey through it is often defined by a trio of virtues: grit, grind and goal. 

Lincoln Land Community College has two outstanding programs that personify these virtues. The Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) and the Pipeline for the Advancement of the Healthcare Workforce (PATH).  Both of these programs are grant funded through the Illinois Community College Board and aim to serve, create, support and expand the opportunities for individuals wanting to enter and/or advance their careers. The WEI and PATH programs provide assistance with short-and longer-term education/training programs to help participants be successful and gain employment in high-wage and in-demand occupations. 

What is success and how does it relate to Grit. Grind. Goal?

Success is a journey, but the path is rarely smooth or straightforward. It’s a journey filled with challenges, setbacks and hard work. To navigate this journey effectively, one needs three essential components: grit, grind and a clear goal. These elements form a roadmap that can lead anyone to their desired destination. 

Grit: The foundation of success

Grit is the tenacity and determination to persevere in the face of adversity. It’s the ability to stay committed to your objectives, even when the going gets tough. In the college arena, where the academic terrain is challenging, and the road can often feel uphill, grit is the intangible force that propels students forward. Angela Duckworth, psychologist and author of the book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” defines grit as a combination of passion and perseverance over the long term. 

Why is grit so crucial? It’s because success is rarely a straightforward path. Obstacles, failures and doubts are inevitable companions on the journey to achieving your goals. Without grit, these challenges can easily derail your progress. 

WEI and PATH student Ladonna has grit and didn’t let failure keep her from moving forward when others might have given up. She is a 2020-2021 LPN (practical nurse) student who successfully finished the program but has yet to pass the board exam. She could have walked away, thrown in the towel and quit. 

Ladonna knows that grit is not about quick wins; it’s about long-term commitment. She stayed on the journey and pivoted. Ladonna was able to receive support from WEI and enroll in the certified nursing assistant (CNA) to certified medical assistant (CMA) bridge program.  She has again successfully completed another program but this time has set an all-time, five-year record high score on the national credentialing test. Ladonna hasn’t forgotten about pursuing her LPN licensing. She stacked the CMA credential as a catalyst to propel her forward. She set ambitious, meaningful goals that required sustained effort over time. She is now working full-time and studying to sit for her exam again. 

Grind: The daily pursuit of excellence

Automotive Technology husband and wife dynamic duo Deja and Denario set out daily to pursue excellence and successfully completed their certificates of achievements. When exams appeared large, when deadlines seemed unattainable, or when personal crises cast their shadow on them, it was grit that kept the flame of determination burning bright. It’s the resolve to say, “we will not give up,” when others might falter. It’s the recognition that failure is not the end but a steppingstone toward success.

They knew that grind manifests as those countless hours spent in the classroom, engrossed in books, or in the laboratory, experimenting and learning. It was the discipline to attend classes, meet deadlines and engage actively in discussions. It was about honing their skills, whether academic, creative or interpersonal, through persistent effort. In essence, grit is the determination to achieve success, while grind is the daily effort required to get there. Without grit, it’s difficult to maintain the focus and resilience needed to stay committed to a long-term goal. And without grind, it’s impossible to make progress towards that goal on a daily basis.

Goal: The north star guiding your path

Setting clear and meaningful goals helps you make informed decisions, prioritize your time and measure your progress. They give you a reason to get up early, stay up late and persevere through the most challenging times. Goals make your experience purposeful and fulfilling. 

Putting it all together

Grit, grind and goal are interconnected elements of success. Grit provides the determination to overcome obstacles, the grind is where you make progress every day, and the goal keeps you focused on your destination.

All of this describes over 400 students who have stayed the course and successfully completed their programs. One must remember that success is not an overnight achievement but the result of consistent effort over time. Embrace the challenges, stay committed to your objectives and keep your eye on the goal. With grit, grind and a clear goal, you have a roadmap that can lead you to the success you aspire to achieve.