Growing Grit: Getting Back on the Horse

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When I see an obstacle -I either remove it or move around it.

What’s your reflex? That’s an important question for all of us to think about – what do we do? What do we teach our kids to do?

Being an entrepreneur has had its tough moments. Vendors getting it wrong, paid consultants slow to respond, or worse, walking off the job. This is the way of the world – I get it. But, it’s how we respond to these obstacles (resilience) that makes all the difference to our happiness and success.

Do we give up? No.

That’s when we need to step it up a notch and overcome. That’s when our grit reflex needs to kick in. This lesson cannot be taught early enough. The expression about falling off a horse and getting right back on comes to mind. In fact, when my daughter was about four, we lived those very words.

One of my daughter’s passions is riding. When she was four and riding her then-favorite pony, Jellybean, he suddenly jolted like in a scene of a Wild West movie, rising on his hind legs; Maya was suddenly thrown off. We comforted Maya, held her close and tight, analyzed her aches and pains and -after we knew she was ok -encouraged her to get back on. She did. And she continues riding today, a good six years later.

Fast forward to August 2019. This was finally the summer Maya was going to learn how to jump. Exciting, right? It was one of Maya’s few goals for the summer and we were all looking forward to her reaching that next level.

But her first day in the barn revealed obstacles that would make meeting that goal almost certainly unattainable -at least that’s how it seemed. The horse was uncooperative, not to mention afraid of poles(!) and the trainer, inexperienced-so much so that she (mis)labeled Maya as “too inexperienced to jump.”

Well, that was the tipping point. Maya decided to give up riding. After two years of being ready to jump, but being met with obstacle after obstacle (e.g., a rotation of trainers and lack of a seasoned horse to learn with), all she needed to hear was that the trainer didn’t think she was ready and the uncooperative leased pony was afraid of poles! Maya was tired, disappointed, angry, and frustrated.

Maya had proverbially fallen off the horse. . . again. . .and I knew she needed to get back on like she did when she was four, or else risk acquiring the muscle memory of giving in and giving up -for this and future challenges.

This was my teaching moment.

I convinced Maya to give it one more go -at a new stable. The very next morning, Maya got back on the horse (luckily, a cooperative one who liked to jump) with an experienced and positive trainer. Within three lessons, Maya was jumping the entire course!!!

With each lesson exponentially building on the last based ona measured approach of testing Maya’s skill set and meeting her where she was, it all felt right. She was even invited to join the barn’s thriving equestrian team!

Turns out, our negative experience with one stable led us to a game-changing, positive experience at another -one Maya never would have had if she didn’t push through pain and frustration to overcome the obstacles in her way, determined to meet her goal.

So many life lessons here:

We know ourselves best.

Others should not be telling you what you are capable of —YOU should tell the world; better yet, YOU should show the world.

Surround yourself with those who believe in you–

-rather than those who don’t.

Never, Never, NEVER give up

If you hit an obstacle in reaching your goals -remove it, go around it, turn it inside out and use it as an advantage. Whatever you do, don’t let it get in your way.

Be grateful for every experience

-even ones that are painful, maybe even especially ones that are painful – as those can yield the sweetest rewards. As Eleanor Roosevelt said,“A stumbling-block for a pessimist is a stepping stone for an optimist.”

I am sure there are even more life lessons here for each of us in this story and in each of your stories involving obstacles -but bottom line: we all must remember to grow some grit and get back on that horse!


Jennifer Shurdut-Bab is the founder and CEO of Moxie Chic, a brand of feminist apparel offering various styles of luxuriously soft, comfortable and flattering t-shirts (and other related products) with fun, positive, female empowering messages and designs for girls of all ages (0 -100). At Moxie Chic, CHOICE and VOICE are paramount. You choose the right shirt styles that best suit you; you choose the positive, empowering messages that best suit your personality. More than a brand, Moxie Chic is a campaign for all girls to #VoiceYourMoxie; it celebrates and elevates girls of all ages and aims to inspire them to think positively and change the world. A portion of all proceeds is donated to an organization supporting girls/women. You can subscribe to Moxie Chic’s newsletters and Jennifer’s blogs here. Like Moxie Chic on Facebook and follow them on Instagram.

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