Janet Watson: Five Ways To Develop More ‘Grit’

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

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Celebrating failure: flipping your mindset to one of “OK, what did I learn from this?” Instead of “I’m a failure and won’t be good at anything” is tantamount to personal growth and developing grit. I learned early on that failure was a big part of my daily life (falling down a lot) and how you embrace it, or maybe not embrace it, will determine how you interface with others and yourself.

As a part of my series about “Grit: The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success” I had the pleasure of interviewing Janet Watson.

Janet started out as a competitive athlete, turned coach, turned national spokeswoman, turned consultant, turned professor, turned advisor, and with this diverse experience has landed where her passion is in serving others with “custom-tailored coaching for business executive needs”. Janet believes the human potential is unlimited and that oftentimes we need a guide by the side to help us define, refine and accelerate our focus.

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?

It’s an interesting journey and since I’ve been coached or been a coach almost my whole life, I’ve landed with a distinct purpose, which is to support others in growing their own wings to fly solo.

Can you share your story about “Grit and Success”? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Most of the hard times were in the middle of my journey as I was definitely given a second chance on life due to a surgery gone awry. Having left this world for about 4 minutes and after a lengthy and painful recovery, I came back with a renewed energy and focus to figure out my purpose. Why was I given a second chance?

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard? Things were hard at first yet my vision became crystal clear knowing that a second chance was afforded me and not many others. It was time to give of my knowledge and experience, drawing elements from my varied competitions, teaching and work experience. Coaching is a natural extension of who I am as a person in that I enjoy the growth process.

So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?

Grit, for me, can’t be talked about without the two follow on words of grace and gratitude. Grit is what you are made of, Grace is how you convey what you are made of and, you know, Gratitude leads the way everyday by acknowledging the gifts you’ve been given. Come to think of it, I think Grit could be my middle name….

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)

*Developing grit

~Perseverance: the art of picking yourself back up when you want to stay down. This happened many times as a competitive figure skater and surrounding yourself by honest and trustworthy accountability partners is a win-win. They lend a hand when you need it most.

~Love: you may question this one, yet when you push yourself to lead with an open heart and learn with an open mind it strengthens your character and lifts you out of your comfort zone. All good ways to develop your own brand of grit.

~Celebrating failure: flipping your mindset to one of “OK, what did I learn from this?” Instead of “I’m a failure and won’t be good at anything” is tantamount to personal growth and developing grit. I learned early on that failure was a big part of my daily life (falling down a lot) and how you embrace it, or maybe not embrace it, will determine how you interface with others and yourself.

~Focus: As a competitive figure skater I would spend hours tracing a delicate series of circles on the ice, with each tracing to be right on top of the previous one. Intense focus and stability are needed on that one tiny blade and without it, you are literally all over the place. Focus can provide clarity on what you need or want to achieve and that is a big component of grit.

~Purpose: asking good questions of yourself “What if I…?” or “How might I…?” to delve into what it is you are passionate about, what propels your growth, what brings you joy, and how to blend those into a recipe that you can work with and expand and grow over time. The purpose is the secret ingredient in mixing your own batch of grit.

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?

My Mom is the most positive person I know. There was never a time she doubted me or my potential and nothing was ever deemed impossible. Her Danish common sense was there to encourage all my ideas growing up and even as an adult, I continue to look to her for good feedback, a pragmatic view and a great sense of humor, which I provide her with lots of material.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Yes, I believe giving back is part of being a good community citizen. Currently I am a scholar mentor for SHECAN, which is an organization than enables and supports young women from post war torn countries, in all aspects of their college education in the US with the knowledge they will go back to their home countries to make a difference. I also serve on the Advisory Council of Bridge the Gap College Prep and on the Board of Clonlara, a global learning community. Previously I served on the board of SAG/AFTRA, and was a 25 year volunteer with the SFSPCA in their Animal Assisted Therapy program.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

In coaching others, my hope is that the client knowledge and self awareness will trickle down having a huge positive effect on not only the people they work with, but within the organization as a whole. My most exciting new project is developing a mentorship program for a health care client so there is a common language, a support system and mutual trust within and across teams. And, this program will morph over time as different people will rotate in and out of the lead positions, highlighted by what they deem important and current.

What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Leading with clarity, relevance and trust in every conversation and every transaction can do wonders for people. Asking thoughtful questions, providing autonomy when possible and modeling the behavior you’d like to see across the organization is extremely valuable. And of course to admit mistakes, share the learning and move on with a plan of action.

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. :-)

Let’s Educate Each Other: embracing the art of conversation about differences. We are at such an impasse with our differences of opinions. Maybe the in person conversation about commonalities can be a start…

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You can’t give it if you don’t have it” This is a relatively new quote that came from a leadership consortium in which we were talking about leading with empathy. It rings true for almost everything within leadership: dedication, collaboration, fairness, inclusivity, resilience… if you don’t already have it, how can you demonstrate or give it? How can you be fair with others if you aren’t fair yourself? How can you lead with empathy if you don’t have any? A good thing to ponder, right?

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On my website https://www.watsonandassoc.com

Or on Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/watsonjanet/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Passionate about bringing emerging technologies to the market