by Colby Harris
Here at Grit.org we recently recorded Episode 3 of the Grit.org Podcast with Guest Sean Poynter, releasing on March 1st. Sean is the 2018 APP (Association of Professional Paddlesurfers) Stand Up Paddleboarding World Champion as well as a 7-time ISA World Games competitor. Sean's story is incredible! From being born in the landlocked city of Cincinnati to living on the North Shore of Oahu as a teenager while he honed his surfing skills, he has seen and done things most people can only dream of. Although you will have to wait for the full episode on March 1st to hear his story in its entirety, I wanted to share a nugget from the episode that resonated heavily with me.
When we asked Sean what he learned while traveling the world at a young age and competing as a young surfer, he said the main thing he learned was to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Sean describes his younger self as more of a shy guy so to not only be facing the best competition in the world as a competitive surfer, but to be thrust into these global surf trips with people he had never met, he had to get uncomfortable. When he said this in the studio, I got goosebumps as I had been battling this concept myself in recent months. I have always heard top achievers say things along those lines of it’s going to get uncomfortable, it’s going to get challenging, and you're going to feel the pressure. Being a highly confident person and always understanding the work I have done to set myself up for success, I have almost never felt uncomfortable- until Fall of 2021. Running Pep Rallies in high school in front of 1000 people, no problem. Being a Grit University Intern, no problem. Being a Grit Camp Counselor, no problem. It was this past Fall when, for the first time in my life, I felt truly uncomfortable and briefly asked myself if I could rise to the occasion.
My position at Grit.org consists of putting a lot of focus on developing the various programs we run as well as coming up with ways to get as many eyes on them as possible. By Fall of 2021, me, Brian, and Jen would really get the ball rolling with the visions and missions Brian and Jen always had for Grit.org. It was my job to help them bring to life the values and principles we promote in a way that's effective, absorbable, and understandable for any audience. Heading into 2022, my direct focus at Grit.org was on Grit Camp, Grit University, Grit Club, and the Grit.org Podcast as well as growing our brand on social media and finding ways we could do that. As previously mentioned, I had never been uncomfortable or distressed from a business standpoint in my life until this past Fall. As we got back into the swing of things following summer 2021, I was full of excitement -and still am to this day- but that doesn't mean I wasn't feeling the heat. By October/ November I was overseeing the launch of 2 new ventures (Grit Club and Grit.org Podcast) while also trying to educate myself on them to ensure we were providing the highest quality product possible. At 19, I am one of three people solely focused on building Grit.org and that means this brand, these businesses, and the success of them will follow me like a hawk, almost like a target on my back, wherever I go. This was intimidating because I had never stood for something that I felt so passionate about and was so dedicated to. I did not want to see any failures, faults, or flops in our journey due to my own actions.
I have run small business ventures in the past such as my pressure washing business or my concierge service, but nothing at scale like I get to at Grit.org. There were a lot, and I mean A LOT, of days I found myself questioning my mission this past fall because I felt so UNCOMFORTABLE. Designing and developing multiple businesses while also coming up with new and exciting spins to add onto them definitely took a toll on me. In my first month or two here at Grit.org, I always found it odd when Brian would call or text me at 10-11pm at night with some new idea/plan he just had. I would ask myself, why am I not lying awake at night like Brian just trying to figure out how we are going to take this mission to the next level? Am I not committed? Am I not truly made for this? Am I good enough to do this? I felt very uncomfortable with the weight of bringing to life everything we had imagined. When this uncertainty hit my mind, I always tried to remind myself of what I did to EARN this spot and what makes me capable of taking on the pressure. When things got really bad I would fall back to a few basic reminders that would help center me and allow me to keep pushing. I would remind myself of everything I have been through to be here today, the fact that I eat, sleep, and breathe what we stand for at Grit.org, and at the end of the day as long as i try my hardest, dedicate myself, and never give in to the pressure or uncertainty then I can do anything I put my mind to.
I still feel uncomfortable some days, but a lot less than I did when we started, and that’s the purpose of pushing yourself through those times of uncertainty. Pain, loss, and failure are inevitable in your life. Bad days are also inevitable, but I believe that makes the same for good days if you're willing to fight for them! Present day, I do feel myself lying awake into the late hours of the night contemplating new ideas and building on old ones, I do feel capable of doing this, and I do feel I am in the right place doing what’s right for me. Similar to Sean traveling the world and seeing other amazing surfers and competing against them, this might have made him nervous at first and wonder- am I really worthy? But as you will learn in his Episode, this only took his game to new levels. How did he level up? He got UNCOMFORTABLE. Make a change in your life, do something that scares you, fight for what you feel is right even when you don’t know how! These are going to be the moments in your life that you remember for a very long time. Check out the preview before for our March 1st podcast with Sean Poynter