In her recent Peer Perspectives on Leadership lecture, Amy Daschle showed how her personal and professional leadership has been defined by one guiding principal: grit. This single idea, when combined with an innate desire to challenge herself, has taken Amy from childhood, to deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and to the cadres of the business world.
What is grit? Amy explained her personal connection to grit as “passion, perseverance, and stamina.” Through the challenges of life, Amy tested and applied her grit and shared these experiences with true introspection, intensity, and poise.
Amy Patel Daschle grew up in Westchester, New York and attended the United States Military Academy at West Point before serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan and then transitioning to a sales and marketing career at PepsiCo. During her five years of active duty, she sought out ways to challenge and push herself beyond what her body and mind said she was capable of doing. She wanted to discover the boundaries within herself and to learn how to push past them. Amy’s grit allowed her to succeed in some of the most challenging environments – most notably as the twenty-three year old female platoon leader of thirty-seven experienced soldiers in Iraq. Through the weeks and months it took to develop relationships with her team, she utilized the fundamentals of grit to gain respect and push past the uncomfortable feeling of being a younger, less experienced “outsider.” This lesson can be applied to all unfamiliar leadership experiences – use grit to push yourself past the boundary of what feels comfortable in the moment.
In addition to developing grit within herself, Amy emphasized the importance of studying the leadership talents of others. Between her tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, Amy worked as the Aide-de-Camp for now three-star General Milley of the US Army. Inspired by his ability to push others to greatness and to balance his leadership with compassion, she felt his leadership prowess first-hand. He reminded her to be better each day, an impactful thought that has followed her long after her assignment with General Milley concluded.
Using grit as a grounding principle, Amy also explained how to balance difficulties and failures with success. Amongst the moments of accomplishment, exhibiting and applying grit is often a solitary journey. In Amy’s words, “being gritty is a lonely process.” She emphasized the importance of a strong support network of loved ones who believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself, who inspire and push you to achieve when you feel you have nothing left to give.
In all aspects of business and of life, commitment to a guiding principal can mean the difference between success and failure. Amy’s personal connection to developing and applying grit is inspiring and reminds us that life is truly a marathon, not a sprint.
If you are interested in nominating a classmate with a compelling story to speak for the Peer Perspectives on Leadership series, please contact Matt Deitch, (WG’15) at email@example.com. Also, like our Facebook page (Wharton Peer Perspectives on Leadership) to stay up-to-date on upcoming presentations!