Is it Grit We Need More Of?

I love our industry- the pace, and the chaos. I think you either have to enjoy the wild unpredictability of it, or you have to be wired in such a way that you enjoy bringing order and stability to the chaos. It’s no surprise to me that many restoration operators are former military, emergency responders or law enforcement. 

And I also marvel at our administrative pros in this industry that year after year “hold down the fort” and manage to support our teams and hold up the systems and procedures that make a business work in this industry. 

Yesterday, one of our Florida clients emailed us an update, and at the end added, “Oh, and another storm seems to be headed our way.” Just weeks after one of the most devastating storms that has ever hit the state. 

Our industry operates on a high level of G.A.S. (Give a Shit) and prides itself in G.S.D. (Getting Shit Done). 

Across the industry we routinely go into overtime, we go home thinking about jobs, and often continue our work into the weekends. And when storms hit, we can go weeks on end without much of a break. 

While there are many rewards of being in restoration- the satisfaction of helping people at some of their worst moments in life, the team spirit that can only come from doing really hard things together, and an economy-resistant industry- many of us struggle to maintain our personal relationships, our health, and many struggle with substance abuse. 

And people leave. It can just be too much sometimes. Often there just isn’t a whole lot of sympathy for people struggling- like in other demanding work environments, there’s a pretty heavy expectation a lot of people feel to “figure it out”, “do what you’ve gotta do” or “get your shit together” without crying uncle or asking for a break. 

A few weeks ago, Brandon and I had Jenny Vandehey back on the show. And grit was the topic we started with.

A definition of grit- it is the capacity to endure great hardship and struggle, to do or accomplish something worthwhile or important. 

Our teams show grit on the regular, right? We praise it, and reward it with raises, more responsibility, and often, longer hours, and even less of a separation between home and work.

I think if we’re honest, all of us recognize that grit, by itself, isn’t sustainable. Endurance without re-feeding and rest, turns into burn-out, break down, and bad attitudes.

So what’s a more sustainable virtue we can promote in our industry, within our teams? 

Jenny would offer resilience. Resilience is something that she and her team at First Onsite have been thinking a lot about, and working on cultivating it more throughout their business. 

Resilience is the ability for us to bounce back from great hardship and struggle. Unlike grit, resilience is evergreen. Resilience puts back into the system, as much as it took out. Grit, at least the way we tend to talk about it, has no end. It’s burning the candle at both ends, until the candle is gone.  

How can we grow our resilience, and the resilience of our team? Jenny would say it starts with being honest with ourselves. It’s first of all self-awareness.

Brandon and I have talked about this before when it comes to time management. No one works well for 20 hours out of a day. In fact, if we’re honest, most of us would probably admit we’ve got closer to 5 or 6 hrs a day of our best work. It’s hard to admit in this culture, but once you admit it, you can make a lot better use of your energy. So Brandon and I typically schedule all of our most challenging and creative work before 3pm every day. We just know after 3 we’re not going to be at our best. 

Jenny described a situation where her boss asked if she could attend a meeting later in the day and share something she’d been working on with the rest of the team. She politely declined, not because it was an unreasonable request, but because she just didn’t have the mental energy to show up and be fully engaged.

Do you have the courage to decline that meeting if you just didn’t have enough gas in the tank? Would your employees feel safe declining a meeting or request for the same reason? 

Sure, there are “all hands on deck” situations that we all need to suffer through together at times, where running on empty is better than not running at all. But do we also give ourselves and our team the ability to recover and recharge before heading back into the trenches? 

What does it look like for us to promote resilience in our businesses more than just grit?

I think it begins with us as leaders being honest with ourselves, and learning how to recharge our batteries and prioritize recovery in our week to week cadence.

 I think it’s also about us paying special care to those employees that we can “always count on” because they’ll do whatever we ask of them. Those prize employees who will never say no, become the gold standard in our business.

But if we really care about our people and creating a sustainable workplace where folks can have a great career and still have their health and families at the end of it- we have to build recovery into what we value and promote on our team. 

Check out the full conversation with Jenny here:


Chris Nordyke

Chris Nordyke is a past State Farm insurance agency owner and commercial sales executive in the restoration industry. He’s a founder and Co-host of the Head Heart & Boots podcast, co-founder of the Floodlight Consulting Group, and co-founder of the Floodlight Leadership Circles. Chris resides in the beautiful state of Oregon with his wife of 20 years, Cara, and their 3 children- Lily, Jack and Simon.

Email Chris at: chris@floodlightgrp.com

Listen to the Head Heart and Boots Podcast on Apple iTunes and Spotify.

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