Finding my Grit; A Journey of Courageous Decision Making

Finding my grit

Bends in the road

If I was asked to choose one poem that best represents my life, I would choose Robert Frost's - The Road Not Taken. Twice I have stood at a bend in the road in yellow woods and chosen a road less travelled by and that has made all the difference.

The first bend occurred on what is now known as Black Monday, the 19th October 1987. I was studying Law and Commerce at Otago University and due to graduate with a Bachelor of Commerce to take up a position as a Stock Broker. I graduated, but thanks to the share market crash, the bend in the road saw me explore new career opportunities in Australia. A move which in hindsight I am so grateful for.

My second bend in the road occurred on Thursday the 7th March 1996. I was 29 years of age, my Grandmother had just passed, my Father was in St John of God Hospital undergoing a heart procedure and I was diagnosed with a life-changing illness - Multiple Sclerosis.

My diagnosis at the time felt like a death sentence. I had never heard of MS. The first thing I did was to learn more about the journey I was about to embark on. The MS Society was a great lifeline. They gave me all the information I needed and it was comforting to know that at the drop of a hat they would be there for me.

I joined a young MS support group but found it very confronting to see people living with MS in wheelchairs. My mind when straight to the worst case scenario. I didn't want to end up in a wheelchair. Meeting with people who were living with MS and talking to them helped eliminate those fears. Bur still I worried about my future.

I decided to start my own business because I thought I was unemployable. I also wanted the freedom to be able to set my own hours and take time off when needed. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made and funnily enough, I have MS to thank for it. Today I own and run a thriving Registered Training Organisation that has been nominated for numerous awards and won plenty too.

MS became my gift; the gift that forced me to live 50 business years in 1/5th of the time. Faced with the reality that I may not be afforded the luxury of achieving my dreams, my tolerance for risk rose and my focus to achieve milestones of success accelerated. I knew that the one variable I was unable to control was time; such an interesting space to spend time in and one that certainly changed my perspective on life, circumstances, opportunities and people. Scope Vision is the vehicle that inspired me to dream, create and work with organisations to develop untapped potential facilitating change in both people and businesses.

Finding my grit

Championing a micro business required grit. I love that word. Researchers have defined grit as:

‘Finishing what you begin with persistence and passion’.

Anyone who runs their own business understands the true meaning of this word. Maintaining passion, persistence and determination is the hurdle that we each face every day in business.

The key for me lay in finding what Dave Pollard refers to as our sweet spot. The place where:

  • our gifts (the things we are uniquely good at);
  • our passion (the things that we love doing and would do every day for no money); and
  • our purpose (what we need to do and what we care about) collide.
Sweet spot

Defining my sweet spot has seen me spend the last 20 years of my life doing what I love most; growing and developing people; who in turn grow and develop the organisations in which they work. Little do they know that they have in fact developed and inspired me.

  • From MS came courageous decisions.
  • From courageous decisions came grit.
  • From grit came Scope Vision.
  • From bends in the road came adventure and defining moments in time.

I am so grateful that the road not taken chose me and that I was afforded the opportunity to look inward to find strength and resilience; and that. as Robert Frost attests, has made all the difference.

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Maria-Jane Satterthwaite

After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 29, MJ knew her journey was going to be unique! 

No way was she going to waste any of her years working 9-5 under poor leadership! She seized the opportunity to become an independent worker; starting her own Registered Training Organisation, Scope Vision.

MJ’s curiosity into what drives people, and businesses, to achieve success has been the passion recognised in her award-winning business. The drive to continue to train and embrace lifelong learning has been her key to success, and she wants to see this happen for others.

20 years on, the passion and curiosity she’s used to shape the businesses she works with, and her longevity in these relationships have inspired her to think about the future of work; what this will mean for workers in general and indeed her own business. Find out more about MJ