During this Fourth of July celebration week, it’s typical to hear references to the Declaration of Independence. After 241 years, this document continues to send strong messages that remain relevant even today. In particular, the second sentence in this historic document is perhaps one of the most powerful due to its stance on human rights.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Something else I find interesting in this statement is how our forefathers used the phrase PURSUIT of happiness—not a guarantee of happiness. Generally speaking, today’s society has a significant need for instant gratification. Some generations have even been described as possessing a sense of entitlement. Neither instant gratification nor entitlement involve much pursuing. Pursuing is defined as “an effort to secure or attain something” and typically that “something” is not easy to attain nor does it happen quickly.
Leaders must develop skills that enable them to stay the course, especially when faced with detours or roadblocks, while they pursue their goals (which should align with their vision of happiness). Angela Duckworth describes this leadership characteristic as GRIT in her research at the University of Pennsylvania.
“We define grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.”
I am profoundly grateful to our forefathers and our military (past and present) who have demonstrated tremendous GRIT as they fought for, and to preserve, our independence. I wonder if I would be capable of the same level of GRIT under similar circumstances. How high do you rate on the GRIT scale as you pursue YOUR happiness? To take the GRIT test go to
Happy 4th of July!
Debbie Platts is an executive coach who collaborates with emerging and established leaders to accelerate both their personal and professional success by creating clarity and purpose in their leadership journey.