Beyond all partisan commentary of the last two weeks of testimonies, everyone who heard Fiona Hill can agree that she was formidable and awe-inspiring. New Yorker writer John Cassidy captures the sense of awe I felt as I watched Dr. Hill’s testimony. According to Cassidy, “Her testimony will also be remembered for her manifest smarts, her directness—a trait of the region where she grew up—her steely self-confidence, and the moral earnestness she displayed.”
Hill’s strong defense of the stated values of her adopted country, and the threats it faces—internal as well as external — was delivered with profound conviction. In comparison, those who challenged her commitment to speaking the truth came across as disgruntled lightweights who had lost their sense of what being an American stands for.
I thought back to an article about women leaders and their response to the question of how they want to be perceived. Top responses focused on qualities of self confidence and trust. Other qualities noted were:
- Remain calm in the midst of crisis and chaos.
- Rise to her best under pressure.
- Absorb new information quickly.
- Keep her self-possession.
- Not retreat from the moment.
For me, this is Dr. Hill. Her strength comes from deep inside — what we often call grit — or those life experiences that develop inner resilience. Facing difficulties or challenges in life help us to develop a sense of strength from deep within. In mindfulness classes, we often discuss whether grit can be developed. How can those of us who have not faced overwhelming challenges aspire to be resilient, to stand up to truth and speak our mind?
No doubt Fiona Hill’s early struggles with poverty in and loss of her father developed much of the resilience we witnessed. But there was another important factor: her perseverance and passion for learning. She became a distinguished Russian analyst and built her reputation on her insights into President Vladimir Putin and help a clear view on the threats posed by Russia to the US. Her knowledge and understanding are planted deep in her heart — in her belief system.
This dynamic combination of knowledge, resilience and conviction provided the platform for Dr. Hill’s testimony and for her acclaimed leadership as a Russian analyst. She is a perfect case study to consider in leadership classes and how to embark on mindfulness to uncover strength and conviction in order to deal with difficult situations in our work, in the world and in day-to-day life.
Taking time for mindfulness and reflective meditations, we can observe ourselves and discover a path of achieving goals. In essence, mindfulness becomes a practice that helps us discover our grit, our ability to be persistent and feel the rewards of consistency and discipline.