Actions That Compose the Work

The work is rarely the most entertaining or compelling, thing.

The result of the work is a lot more compelling—good, bad, ugly, or indifferent.

The process is rarely envied.

The result of the work—the sausage, such as it were—is delicious on the plate, and worthy of being enjoyed. And sometimes, people are envious of the outcome.

The potential to experience emotional pain, public (or private) embarrassment, and even failure is so strong that people seek all kinds of shortcuts to avoid experiencing any of those potential outcomes.

But experiencing those outcomes, many times is the work.

Here is a partial (but not all inclusive) list of actions that compose the work. As in all cases, your mileage (and experiences) may vary:

Patience is work.

Resiliency is work.

Accepting outcomes is work.

Knowing where to put your focus (and why), is work.

Showing up every day, even when you don’t feel like it, is work.

Being responsible when a project, idea, or position you championed doesn’t work, is work.

Ruthlessly eliminating hurry in the short-term, to accomplish larger lifetime goals in the long-term, is work.

Having the courage, clarity, and candor to speak up about what is working and what isn’t, is work.

Engaging with people we don’t personally (or professionally) like without rancor, to accomplish goals greater than ourselves, is work.

Knowing when to quit, what to quit, and how to quit, is work.

Figuring out the right questions to ask, in the right way, to the right people, and then hearing the answers, is work.

Realizing that the work is on the line, but that you as a person are not, is work.

Raising expectations with the idea of fulfilling them, rather than using them as leverage against the other party in a conversation, or conflict, is work.

Seeing the end goal of a project, and realizing that persuasion of other people is the number one thing to accomplish to get there, is work.

Being intentional about your actions, whether in a conflict process, a project process, or a goal oriented process, is work.

Knowing yourself and what you are capable of (and what your limitations are), is work.

Understanding when to stop working, is work.

Doing any, and all, of these things in public, doesn’t make for a compelling or entertaining process to view from the outside.

And in a post-Industrial society, that values entertainment above all else, knowing what’s truly compelling, and talking, writing, and entertaining about that, is work.

Increasingly, it may be part of the only work that matters.

[Strategy] The Three C’s

Clarity is the quality of being clear and understandable.

Candor is the quality of being open and honest in expression. Not transparent, not vulnerable, but truthful.

Courage is the quality of doing something that is frightening.

The character Mattie Ross in the Charles Portis book True Grit, published in 1968, is the rare character in fiction who is unvarnished in her candor, uncompromising in her clarity, and unwavering in her courage.

In the way of fictional female characters before her, from Lewis Carroll’s Alice to L. Frank Baum’s Dorothy and beyond, Mattie’s character stands out because without her making a decision and then communicating that decision, nothing much occurs.

With the three c’s, she is able to move the action of the plot forward, demand acknowledgement from other characters in the narrative, and is able to get engagement—but not resolution—to the issues which are driving her.

With the three c’s, Mattie is able to look at her world, her choices, and her circumstances without nostalgia—but not without regret.

With the three c’s, Mattie becomes the character with grit—that quality of resilience that often gets overlooked in the pursuit of happiness.

Fiction often reflects truths of life in ways that make us uncomfortable. This is because fiction shows, through the representation of “pretend,” that the traits we look for so hard in others, must be curated and developed in ourselves first.

[Strategy] Reframing your Organization’s Litigation Strategy

Your organization’s litigation strategy is based on how your organization perceives giving an apology, taking responsibility, or passing around blame.

Your organization’s litigation strategy is based on how the founder perceives conflict, engagement, resolution, and even resilience and grit.

Your organization’s litigation strategy is based on how founders, executives, investors, employees, clients, customers, and others integrate and engage with (or don’t) lawyers, the legal system, and even legal professionals.

Your organization’s litigation strategy is not an accident, or something that “just grew” like Topsy. It is a strategy that is either intentional, or reactive.

Just like your organization’s conflict engagement, avoidance, or resolution strategy.

[Advice] There Are No Shortcuts…

The quality, or trait, of getting up and doing what needs to be done, particularly when you don’t want to do it, is sometimes called “will” or “grit” or “courage.”

But these are fancy labels for something a lot deeper that people can’t really, collectively describe.

And anybody who wants to make a dent in the universe, no matter how big or small, must possess this trait in great quantities if they are to make the dent they want to make.

Unfortunately, the audience on the outside of the dent making process, overrate the effect of the trait (the “dent”), and underrate the ability to engage with the getting toward the goal (the “will” or “grit” or “courage”).

Which is why there is so much coveting of the outcomes of exercising the “will” or “grit” or “courage.”

Which results in jealousy and envy on the part of members of the audience.

Which winds up with members of the audience expending valuable energy engaging with manipulation and deceit, rather than hard work, diligence, and patience.

There are no shortcuts to making a dent in the universe, no matter how much we might like there to be.

[Opinion] #GritFilledLivesMatter

Resiliency in the face of a constant barrage of stressors leads to addictive behavior, poor communication skills, erosion of personal relationships and leads to a reduction in the very resiliency, stressors were designed to develop.

We see evidence of this in communities torn apart by racial conflict, ethnic conflict and religious conflict. When there are too many external stressors 9and even internal stressors), individuals (and groups) cross the line from being “gritty” and resilient to taking up arms, protesting and pushing back.

Sometimes violently.

Which creates a cycle, based not in resiliency (though the other dominant party may resist the protests and pushback through avoidance, aggressiveness, or even passive-aggressive behavioral tactics) but in resistance.

And both sides will claim—either verbally or nonverbally— to be exercising resiliency in the face of unreasonable requests, protests and pushback from “the other.”

“We shall overcome” becomes the stated chant (and unstated belief) of both sides, and the first side to verbalize it, is most likely the side who will endure—or have the resiliency and grit—to make it to the end of the cycles of violence.

The critical question to ask (and answer) thus becomes: Will there ever be a way to encourage the development if grit and resilience in people, families, communities, and even in cities and nation-states, without triggering violent cycles of resistance, retribution and violence?

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Advice] Interviewing for Your Project

The interview process is rife with problems, and the solopreneur consultant has more problems than most at the beginning.


Think about it: If you’ve solved the problem of scaling up from a freelance, “I hire myself because it’s cheaper,” mindset, and have developed a proprietary process that you can sell to others at a price high enough to justify having an employee, only then can you make a hire.

And many solopreneurs/business owners, approach hiring with a mindset grounded in the back end UX they suffered through when they were looking to work for somebody else.

Typically the process goes as follows: You bring people into a room, after putting several of them through a grueling process of assessment—both psychological and sometimes physical. Then you ask them a series of ridiculous, HR designed, pre-formatted questions.

After this, everybody leaves the room and the consultant/solopreneur/business owner makes a blind decision to  hire or not hire the people put through the process. This decision typically follows a series of arbitrary, meaningless, showy conversations with partners and others, that have told nothing about how well the potential employee can perform in the position; and, have everything to do with intangible–and potentially illegal to consider–character traits.

This is the interview process and a lot of times both the interviewer and the newly hired individual is dissatisfied with what happened in the room.

Look, if you’ve successfully leapfrogged to business owner from freelancer, then there are three things that you should be looking for before you even think about going down the hackneyed road of interviewing:

  • Is the person that I am talking to conscientious?
  • Is the person that I am talking to accustomed to failure and does this person have the grit to get through it?
  • Is the person that I’m talking to going to fulfill the material needs of my business at a human level?

That’s it. Those are your interview considerations.

Now, you’re an entrepreneur first and a business owner second. Go blow up the model of the process.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

The Longest Good-bye

Future historians looking at the sports marketing history of the United States will be puzzled by the rise and fall of American Baseball. 

The Longest Goodbye

They will note that it mirrored the loss of attention span in the overall culture, the need for greater and more brutal spectacle (see the fall of boxing and the rise of MMA for more of this) and the rise of American Football.

American Baseball’s long goodbye also follows closely with the fracturing of media markets and the loss of patience for the long themes inherent in long form journalism.

No event marks this more starkly than the swan song of Derek Jeter. Here is a player that–if he had come along 75 years ago–might not have been as honored because of the statistics, but would have been valued even more because of his heart.

Unfortunately, he came to athletic prominence in a time of dwindling respect for athletes as people and potential role models and a rise in overall cultural coarseness, disinterest and, of course the decline in interest around of his chosen game. 

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Advice] On Grit

I hear that he is a man with true GRIT.” – Mattie Ross, True Grit, 1969

Grit doesn’t get talked a lot about in a society that prizes the easy and the compromising.

It is tough to be uncompromising in such a societal structure.

However, to paraphrase from the film Braveheart, it is easy to admire uncompromising men, without actually doing the hard work of joining them in their pursuit of doing the hard thing.

The definition of grit is clear:

  • Sand, gravel
  • A hard sharp granule (as of sand); also :material (as many abrasives) composed of such granules
  • Any of several sandstones the structure of a stone that adapts it to grinding
  • The size of abrasive particles usually expressed as their mesh
  • Firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger
  • Capitalized: a Liberal in Canadian politics

The fourth definition is the clearest one for our purposes here.

Grit has come to the forefront in the last few years as the idea of inherent talent has begun to take a beating from the likes of evolutionary biologists and post-post-modern philosophers.

In its clearest form, grit becomes a holdover from a simpler time, when talent was not as valued in the Western world. Instead, traits such as perseverance, persistence, courage and spirit were once lauded as virtues.

As the 20th century rolled on by, and as we entered the vaunted “Atomic Age,” grit became valued less and less.

And, with the rise in the latter part of the 20th century, of computing, analytics, the Internet, and other faster and faster methods of accomplishing what used to be slow, and grinding (like an abrasive piece of…well…gravel) grit was less and less talked considered as an important character trait.

But, my how the worm turns: As the holes in our education system have become more and more exposed in the opening years of the new Millennium, grit has made a comeback–becoming a touchstone for encouraging children to develop perseverance, resilience, persistence and to avoid quitting early.

But grit is still scary. Deep in our heart of hearts, we would rather succeed through ease of talent versus the scary, hard thing of work, taking hits and developing a thick skin.

The story we consistently tell ourselves about resiliency, persistence and grit is one of no fun, delayed glory and little riches.

In a world of instant connections and instant gratification, who wouldn’t quit and avoid conflicts in their lives if that were the alternative?

But maybe, that’s the only alternative that matters. Maybe the only alternative is to pick a position, be uncompromising, and grind it out.

Maybe the only alternative is to be a person with true grit.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

On Quitting


What makes people quit?
Now, this question comes directly out of several experiences that we have had over the last few months and weeks that have lead us to question the need for our business, the efficacy of our business model and what it all means.

However, every time we have discussed these thoughts, feelings, and emotions with others, the admonition of “Just don’t quit,” keeps coming back to us over and over again.

The majority of this support and tacit encouragement comes from close friends, some family members and people in the overall community who recognize the value of what we do.

But that leads us back to the question: What makes people quit?
Here are some statistics:
  • In the United States alone, the divorce rate among first marriages is 3.6 per 1,000 and among second marriages it is even higher.
  • A 1998 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics also makes the pessimistic case – that 80% of small businesses survive their first year, 65% survive their second year and 55% survive their third year.
  • According to the BBC, US researchers found people typically lose between 5% and 10% of their weight during the first six months of a diet.  But the review of 31 previous studies, by the University of California, said up to two-thirds put more weight on than they had lost within five years.
So in some of the most important areas of our lives (health status, relationships, financial decisions), where we make momentous decisions, upend everything sometimes, we then turn around and we quit continuously and neverendingly.
But WHY?
  • Is the commitment to hard?
  • Is the time to put in too great?
  • Is the social approbation to heavy?
Or, are we all just lazy?
Is there a time to quit?  Probably not the time that Byrds were talking about in their apocryphal song, but nevertheless, is there?
In the military, there is an idea known as a “strategic retreat,” which is a euphemism for what civilians would call a retreat, a failure or just quitting.
And yet, we abhor cowardice, we hate “quitters” and we encourage people to persist, have grit, “grind it out,” and all the other things that we say, while we simultaneously think: “Boy, I would’ve quit THAT long ago.”
Maybe the question isn’t why do we quit relationships, military strategies, business efforts, ideas, or each other; but, maybe the question is instead:
Why do we persist?