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In praise of grit

Resources | July 1, 2016 | By:

Many readers of Marine Fabricator are business owners. Whether you own a business or work for someone, you regularly encounter obstacles that need to be solved to meet your obligations. Problem solving often requires great persistence or a quality known as grit—the resourcefulness and mental toughness to complete a task, despite frustrations and setbacks.

Speaking of grit, few of us are ever challenged to persevere through experiences like that of Lieutenant Louis Zamperini. Zamperini’s story is chronicled in Laura Hillenbrand’s book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Hillenbrand, one of my favorite authors, researched and wrote both her best-selling books while battling a debilitating condition called chronic fatigue syndrome.

I admire Hillenbrand’s journalistic accomplishments, but Zamperini is a person who belongs in an entirely different category of human perseverance. In 1943, 26-year-old Zamperini and 10 crew members were flying a mission over the Pacific Ocean in a B-24. The plane crashed, killing eight crew members. Zamperini and two others survived and were left with two six-foot rubber lifeboats and only enough food and water for a few days.

As they drifted into Japanese-controlled waters, they had no radio, no navigational equipment, and no protection from weather elements. Day and night, sharks swarmed around and under their life rafts. They survived by eating the raw meat of the few birds and fish they caught.

After 47 days at sea, a Japanese ship picked up the men, and they became prisoners of war, enduring further starvation, brutal beatings, and horrible humiliations. Zamperini survived all this and he returned to California to his incredulous family after the war.

I marvel at Zamperini’s mental and physical toughness—and his creativity in solving problems.

We can appreciate stories like his, because they help us keep perspective and appreciate our resources. In your marine fabrication work, you undoubtedly have ample evidence that if you keep chipping away at small and large projects you will get favorable results. You find out what works, what doesn’t, and what you will do differently next time. That’s grit, and it makes all the difference in sustaining a business.

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