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The Power and Necessity of Personal Grit | Shannon Huffman Polson
Episode 59th April 2024 • Potent with Steven Lawson • Steven Lawson
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How can you make discomfort work for, rather than against you?

On today's episode of Potent, Steven Lawson and Shannon Huffman Polson, founder of The Grit Institute, explore the transformational power of grit, and how you can build grit in your own life to live into a deeper potential through moving towards rather than away from discomfort, change, and difficulty.  Uncover how discomfort, service, and challenging experiences pave the way for transformation and a more purposeful existence.

About Today's Guest

Shannon Huffman Polson is the author of The Grit Factor: Courage,Resilience and Leadership in the Most Male Dominated Organization in the World, as well as the memoir North of Hope. She is the founder of The Grit Institute, a leadership institute committed to whole leader development, and host of The Grit Factor podcast. Polson also teaches on the faculty of the Tuck School's Leadership and Strategic Initiative Executive Education Program.

As one of the first women to fly the Apache helicopter in the U.S. Army, leading line units on three continents, Polson combines her passion and firsthand experience in and study of leadership, grit, purpose and story to address the needs of her clients in the face of challenge and change with world-class keynotes and executive education.

After serving for a decade in the armed services, Polson earned her MBA at the Tuck School at Dartmouth, and later her MFA. She went on to lead outstanding teams in the corporate world in the medical device industry and at

Microsoft. As a community leader, Polson successfully envisioned, founded and led the completion of a $6.5M new library and civic center.

Polson has a decade of experience speaking to companies and organizations around the world, and is consistently the highest rated speaker at her events. Polson lives with her husband and two children in Washington State.

Show Notes

02:00 The Grit Factor

03:20 Why grit?

04:16 The double crucible

05:50 What to do when the cards are against you?

10:19 Encounters with death

13:23 Courageously engaging death/life

16:52 Danger to be consumed with purpose

18:32 Trusting oneself

19:42 Connect with inner compass

22:36 A holistic approach

24:29 Raising kids with grit 

27:55 Belonging and significance

29:55 Doomsday news

32:32 Can't make friends?

33:54 Comfortable with uncomfortable

38:13 Outgrowing the box analogy

39:13 how you navigate growing

42:24 What does great look like

46:14 Trust the process/love the work

47:50 Mary Poppins

50:27 Gratitude changes you

52:36 Look for ways to serve

This podcast is brought to you by the Monk Manual. The monk manual is dedicated to providing best-in-class tools for helping you build a more potent life, and experience peaceful being and purposeful doing on a daily basis. If you’d like to be more intentional with your time and energy - please visit

The Potent Podcast is produced and edited by Justin Sinclair, who also composed the the theme music. Additional editing support and mixing by Aaron Feeney. Design by Kristin Bural of Soulbeam Studios.




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