Do You Believe in a GRIT Gene?

I realized this morning that I come from a family of entrepreneurs; I’m actually the fifth Schepmyer to start a business! 

My Mom and my Dad (whom I call Big Daddy for future reference) started Schepmyer’s Craft Company almost 40 years ago. Anthony, my older brother, is the CEO at Vaughan Industrial Supply and Andrew, my younger brother, incorporated his Neurology practice a few years ago. We’ve all faced a unique set of obstacles along our journeys, but we’ve all called on our GRIT to realize our business dreams! 

I recall watching Big Daddy and Mom, who is truly the mother-of-all crafters in my books, as they worked so hard to make their small company successful. My Mom does the manual labour of creating art from almost anything! Big Daddy helps with the bigger projects (e.g., driving Mom to shows, framing pictures when she used to make paper tole and helping set-up for various art shows). Was that GRIT I was seeing the whole time and I just didn’t know it? Did we inherit it? 

When I read Angela Duckworth’s book on grit, I learned the word Sisu. According to the website for Finland University, it’s a Finnish term that can be roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance and acting rationally in the face of adversity. To the Finnish people, Sisu has a mystical, almost magical meaning. It is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain that courage. It defines the Finnish people and their character. It stands for the philosophy that what must be done will be done, regardless of cost.

You might call it backbone, spunk, stamina, guts or drive and perseverance. Sisu is a measure of integrity that surpasses the hardship and sees through to the end. It is an inherent characteristic of the Finnish people; Sisu is the quality that lets them pick up, move on and learn something from previous failures. It’s the hard-jawed integrity that makes them pay their war debts in full. In short, it’s the indomitable will that sets Finns apart and explains many of the incredible things they do.

Although it’s an untranslatable word, Sisu sounds a whole lot like collective or cultural GRIT to me! 

Starting a business may not be what defines your family’s GRIT, but it’s neat to stop and think about possible GRIT genes running through your family tree. I’m going to connect with my family this week to see if we can agree on our G, R, I and T words. Then, I’ll share our answers and tell you more about each of the businesses in upcoming blogs. 

 So, what do you think GRIT looks like in your family?