Grit, The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success: “Employ Compassion and Patience” With Becca Clegg and Phil Laboon
Employ Compassion and Patience: The word “grit” itself sounds tough as nails. It might be surprising then, for me to say that I believe a huge part of what gives someone grit is the ability to employ compassion and patience. If you are able treat yourself with compassion, then you are far better equipped to keep going when you experience hard times than someone who is highly critical of themselves.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Becca Clegg, Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Supervisor, Author, Psychotherapist and Speaker. Becca is the Clinical Director of Authentic Living; a private practice specializing in the treatment of women in recovery from eating disorders & body image issues in Atlanta, GA. Becca also writes and presents nationally, educating families, clients and clinicians on the treatment of eating disorders and her book, Ending The Diet Mindset: Reclaim a Balanced and Healthy Relationship With Food and Body Image, aims to help women stop their obsession with weight loss and body image and reclaim a relationship with food and body that is balanced and sustainable.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path
I am a psychotherapist and author who specializes in working with women’s issues and food and body image issues. This is my passion because I too once had an eating disorder, and I know first-hand how destructive eating disorders are to the lives of those individuals who are struggling with them. I knew very early on in my own path of recovery that when I was recovered, I wanted to help others who were trying to recover from disordered eating. It was a way for me to transform a story of pain and struggle into one of triumph and meaning. I honestly believe that how we choose to look at our life, our attitude or mindset, is the seat of where ‘grit’ lives.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
If you believe, as I do, that my journey started as my eating disorder developed, then the first few chapters of this story could be labeled, “hard times”. Eating disorders aren’t just about food; they are a way of coping with difficult emotions and as the saying goes, “the only way out — is through”. There is no getting away from having to face your fears if you want true recovery from an eating disorder, so I believe that my early life, and my process of recovery was in many ways foundational training for understanding how to navigate my way in the world.
When I first started my private practice, and went into business for myself, I had years of school and training in psychology. I knew how to be a therapist. I did not, however, have any background in business or marketing, so low and behold, I found myself running a company with very little understanding of what that entailed. I quickly realized my dilemma and immediately sought assistance from marketing and business coaches and consultants. I was not afraid to ask for help and I knew the value in seeking the assistance of an expert.
I spent the early years of my career as a therapist doing therapy during the day, and learning how to run a business at night. It was two full time jobs, but I knew that if I didn’t commit myself to truly understanding the basics of business development and marketing I would always be at the mercy of other people, and I didn’t want to abdicate that kind of knowledge. I can honestly say, it was one of the greatest investments I have made in myself and my business to date. The freedom that comes from being self-reliant is something you cannot put a price tag on.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I believe that because I had to navigate my way out of something as complex and complicated as an eating disorder, I inherently understood the value of perseverance and mindset. Years of hard work focusing on my mindset and my self-efficacy gave me the gift of belief in my ability to do hard things. Let me tell you, this is no small thing. If we never struggle, we never get the opportunity to experience ourselves as capable and connect to that grit that lives in all of us. I believe that when it came to running a business, I may not have known anything about business itself, but I understood that I was capable of learning, growing and overcoming. I had dealt with a circumstance far more formidable and seen my way to the other side, so I did not doubt my ability to do the same when it came to developing my career.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
Grit gave me the energy to keep moving forward on the bad days; the belief in myself when the evidence pointed to failure; and the capacity to stay present when things were scary and difficult, knowing I could feel these feelings and continue moving forward anyway. It takes grit to decide you are going to face life on life’s terms, because if we are being honest, life is not always easy. I believe that there was a gift inherent in experiencing something as difficult as an eating disorder. The gift is, I came to realize that I was not fragile because I experienced difficult things, but rather, because I experienced and overcame difficult things, I was incredibly strong and capable. Simply stated, my grit comes from believing in myself, and knowing I can tolerate difficult and painful situations.
So, how are things going today? :-)
Fantastic! I have a thriving private practice where I continue to help women in recovery. I recently published my first book, which aims to reach a broader audience and prevent women from developing or continuing disordered eating patterns. I also speak around the country educating families, clients and clinicians on the treatment of eating disorders, body image, and women’s empowerment. I can’t think of a better way to pay it forward and I am in love with my diverse and ever changing career path.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)
- Don’t Avoid Your Feelings — Our society has a long history of leaning on the intellect and devaluing our emotional experiences. If we constantly avoid our feelings, we lose the ability to really understand our deeper wants, desires, and needs. If we are going to understand what we are truly “made of”, which in many ways is a core pillar of developing an attitude of grit, then we must know ourselves. We can only do this by being willing to face our fears.
- Turn “Failure” Into a Lesson — The nature of being human is to learn by doing. This means that each of us will fail, over and over, if we are truly taking risks and going outside of our comfort zone. The only way to avoid perceived failure is to play it safe. So many of us are terrified of failing, and this means we miss out on opportunities to grow and expand. If you can reframe what you perceive as failure and learn to see it as a necessary part of the process, then you can persevere in the face of it. That’s grit.
- Employ Compassion and Patience: The word “grit” itself sounds tough as nails. It might be surprising then, for me to say that I believe a huge part of what gives someone grit is the ability to employ compassion and patience. If you are able treat yourself with compassion, then you are far better equipped to keep going when you experience hard times than someone who is highly critical of themselves. People who are critical and perfectionistic tend to stop in the face of difficulty, because they are terrified of what failure might mean. If you are patient and compassionate and allow for twists and turns in your journey then you are far more likely to continue.
- Surround Yourself With Role Models: Not a day goes by when I am not listening to an audiobook, podcast, or watching a video that inspires me. My audible library is 90 percent autobiographical and non-fiction, as I am a little obsessed with surrounding myself with the stories of others who are doing the things I want to be doing in the world. There are so many amazing, successful people with grit that would make your mind explode doing unthinkably cool things in the world. And with today’s technology, you can expose yourself to their stories anytime you need inspiration. If you are intentional about this, their grit can add to your own, as we know that vicarious learning is one of the ways that people develop self-efficacy.
- Seek Duality In All Things — I am a true believer that no matter what is going on in your life, no matter how painful the circumstances, there is always room for joy. Does this mean you always have to celebrate and feel joyful? No, of course not. Sometimes life gets the better of us. But I do believe that even in the darkest hour, light exists. The nature of duality allows us to seek balance in all things. We only know loss because we have loved; we only know pain because we know pleasure. If we can remember this simple universal law of nature, we also can hold on when things get hard, knowing that the opposite of what is difficult is also true.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
I don’t have time or space to adequately thank all the people who have helped me along the way. My family have always been unconditionally supportive, and I equate much of my ability to take risks to my understanding that I have them as a foundation of safety. My own therapists, who helped me navigate my way through recovery, also played an invaluable role in not only guiding me on my path, but modeling for me the role I eventually decided to embrace as I developed my career. Without teachers and the guidance and support of those around me, I do not know that my story would be what it is today.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Well, I definitely like to believe that I have been able to help the people I have worked with as a therapist over the past 15 years. I built my private practice specifically to be able to offer the type of care and intervention that I felt was necessary for true recovery. Last year, when I published my first book, I did so with the intention of bringing the wisdom I’ve learned to a broader audience, one that might not be able to access therapy or perhaps is hesitant to seek help. I could not have done this had I not worked so hard to create a thriving business that supported me in this process.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am, yes. I am developing online programs for those who want to learn more about mindset, self-compassion, and healing their relationship with food and body image. I am hoping that these resources will provide the help and support to those who want to continue their own journey of wellness. In creating these programs, I am hoping they can be an adjunct resource for those who might not be able to access therapy with a specialist, but would benefit from the knowledge. My long-term goal is to use the technology available to us to help bring resources to a broader scope of people, at a more accessible price point so that the tools and knowledge out there are accessible to everyone in some form.
What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
I would state that progress and change are not linear. Failure and repetition are part of the learning process, and experiencing our struggles fully is something that teaches grit and determination. If you allow your employees to have this experience, without fear of consequence or negative feedback, then they can start to learn from their mistakes. If your employees are afraid to fail, or do not feel they come to you with their problems, then you are losing out on an opportunity for your employee to learn what they are made of through their struggle (which, in my opinion, is where confidence and grit are born).
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I have to pick just one? This is going to be hard…
One thing I would love to see is more people embracing a “pay-it-forward” mindset. Most people give back, but if we could start to think strategically about how we do this, the impact of this would be exponential. It might be hard to measure, but I’m not sure that matters. I’ll give you an example. I am very intentional that whenever I have any kind of financial good fortune, I donate money to a favorite causes. Sometimes it is a generous sum, other times it is 5–10 dollars. It isn’t the amount that concerns me, but the intention of paying it forward and honoring the reciprocity in life. Another example is that I make a point to mentor and support young therapists and students in my field, because I am intentional about giving to others, as others gave to me. It seems to me if we could all become more purposeful about making sure we give back and do so in a way that is thought out and intends to honor reciprocity, we could each make a definitive impact on our world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If I have seen further, it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants” — Sir Isaac Newton
This is the quote that I have in the beginning of my book, under a dedication to both of my grandmothers. I find that this quote sums up my deeply held belief in the importance of connection and supporting one another. Earlier, when you asked me who helped me in my journey, and I told you the list was very long, I meant that.
I think it is so important to honor those that have come before us and paved the way for our success. As a woman, I would never be where I am today had it not been for the courage and the grit of the women who came before me and demanded that we as women have rights equal to men. As a recovered woman, I would not be where I was had it not been for counselors, teachers, and wise counsel of others who had struggled before me and paved the way with research and trial and error. As a human, I would not be on this path of success were it not for the vulnerable connections I have with my loved ones and family. I may have grit, but I do not exist on an island. I stand on the shoulders of giants, and I am forever grateful for and humbled by their help and support in my journey.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/beccaclegglpc
Facebook Women’s Wisdom Circle Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/899302506852719/
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.