Mae West was gutsy. Grace Kelly was, well, graceful. Usually when we think of these two descriptors we see them as mutually exclusive. You are either go-get-‘em sassy, or diplomatic and ladylike. Olympic athletes are both graceful and gutsy, but they have devoted their entire lives to training, forgoing all else. Is it possible for mere mortals such as we to achieve both guts and grace via our everyday lives?

Well, I’ve gotta say a resounding Yes! The key, as in many things, is to take a real look at how we define those characteristics. Guts: courage and fortitude, determination and stamina. Grace: elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action; ALSO forgiveness or kindness. So, if we aspire to have both we need to move solidly forward while maintaining a demeanor that allows for beauty and gentleness.

Yikes. How the heck are we supposed to be both Mae and Grace? Well first off you don’t have to be either gutsy or graceful. You can be timid and clumsy, right? Oh, that sounds terrible. We are supposed to be all good things like “full of grace” or a “gutsy gal.” We put so much pressure on ourselves! Let me help you out here.

I am 100% certain that you have been gutsy at some time, and may be feeling very gutsy now. All “guts” means is that you came up against some sort of resistance, and pushed through anyway. You led the way into your future without trepidation. I bet you can think of a situation where this was true of you, and maybe you live that way all of the time. Great! And grace doesn’t mean you are classically beautiful and can dance like a muse. It means that you chose to act in a kind or forgiving manner when you could have, some say you should have, yelled and sworn at someone. Now, yelling and swearing have their place, I suppose. We are human. But there is a feeling of powerfulness that comes from choosing NOT to react with a gut emotion (see what I did there?) and instead to use compassion to handle the situation. Admit it: when you blow up and yell at someone, don’t you often later feel less powerful because of it? And when you held back and calmly ignored, forgave, or redirected a situation didn’t you think, “Yeah, I’m awesome because I totally owned that situation instead of losing it.”

This is Guts and Grace, and it’s the way I try to live, with some success but not total. I’ve learned a few things that help me when I’m facing challenges, and I can share a few with you here.

To Build Guts: Physical challenges that are within reach, but kind of hard to do like martial arts, running a 5K, lifting weights, or doing 20 pushups. Mental and emotional challenges like having a heart-to-heart with someone estranged, learning Chinese, or doing public speaking.

To Build Grace: Physically work on balance via yoga or Qigong, feed yourself well, and get enough sleep. Emotionally try pausing instead of jumping to conclusions, feeling compassion instead of judging, or telling yourself you are doing enough instead of pushing yourself to the brink.

I find that building up Guts helps me take life with more Grace, and vice versa. Being physically enabled makes me feel better in my skin, and helps me be stronger mentally. Being more forgiving helps me listen to my body so I don’t overdo or neglect myself.
Like I said, you don’t need to live with Guts and Grace, but why not try it? You just might find that your life rounds out very nicely with these two seemingly opposed tendencies. You already have all that you need within you, so have faith in yourself and give it a go!