Austin’s story is one of tragedy, incomprehensible loss and triumph.
On Labor Day of 2003, he was flying home with his family from northern Michigan to Ft. Wayne, Indiana. As they were preparing to land, the aircraft crashed and burst into flames. His dad threw him out of the plane to save his life. He went back into the flames to get the others, but tragically, was unable to. Austin’s mom, sister, and brother did not survive. Austin and his dad grieved the loss but became each other’s lifeline through the grief. They pushed each other to overcome, as they knew their family would have wanted.
Austin’s dad was later remarried and together, they formed a wonderful blended family. Meanwhile, Austin worked hard on his basketball skills and began to have success on the court. His dream was to play for Michigan. On June 15, 2011, Coach Beilein offered me a full scholarship to play basketball at The University of Michigan, which he accepted. Nine days later, on June 24th, 2011, with his father and “second mother”, he was flying to Northern Michigan to have a weekend of celebration. As they were preparing to land, the aircraft crashed, and Austin’s father and stepmom were killed on impact. He suffered severe injuries and was nearly killed. After being in a coma for over two months, he had to relearn how to walk, talk, and basically how to live.
With the help of many incredible therapists, family, and friends, he made a great comeback to take the place at The University of Michigan that coach Beilein held open for him. He is now a graduate of The University of Michigan, a full-time motivational speaker with a message about Thriving in the midst of adversity. He is married to an incredible woman named Abigail, who was also a former varsity athlete at The University of Michigan. She pushes him to get better every single day. He considers himself blessed to be in a position to have an impact, and the ability to speak and add value to a variety of organizations. The question he had to find the answer to was, “how can I thrive in the midst of the adversity I face”? We all face challenges today but Austin truly believes we ALL can find ways to thrive in the midst of them.
GRIT: Growth Mindset to Overcome Any Adversity
We all face challenges today but I believe we can find ways to thrive in the midst of them.
From my experiences, those who find ways to thrive in the midst of adversity do so with Grit. A lot of people have talked about Grit recently; it seems like a good trait for both people and for organizations to possess.
It has been said that Grit is working hard for a long period of time; that Grit is about consistency, not just intensity. That’s true, but how can we apply Grit to daily our lives? How can we use this idea to help us, not merely survive adversity, but, instead, thrive in the midst of adversity? How can we use Grit to help us achieve any goal we set for ourselves and for our organization? I believe the following definition applies to overcoming adversity and to accomplishing any goal, as well.
There are four key components to Grit, but I believe Grit is driven by having a Greater Purpose for why we do what we do. If we are working just for ourselves, it is very likely that we will eventually face some form of adversity that will cause us to give up because we don’t have a driving force for why we do what we do. If we are working for something bigger than ourselves, we will always do what it takes to get the job done, no matter the task and no matter the circumstances.
Not only will we find a way to overcome adversity, but we will also find a way to get better because of it. Our Purpose drives Grit.
Growth Mindset, the first component of Grit. The Growth Mindset believes that every setback, every adversity, every failure, is an opportunity. Even when we inevitably fail or fall short of a goal, the Growth Mindset believes that failure is not a permanent condition. We can use it as an opportunity to get better. Adversity does not define us. Adversity can refine us if we approach it with the Growth Mindset. The event will probably not be a source of growth, but I believe we can grow from how we choose to respond.
Resilience, the second component of Grit. The decision to be resilient leads us to believe that we are not the product of our circumstances. We are the product of how we decide, how we choose to respond. We can overcome anything we put our minds to. If we make the decision to be Resilient, we focus on our Response to the adversity we face, rather than dwelling on the events that we can’t control. The decision to be resilient will enable us to be agile as well. Sometimes, we just have to find a way.
Integrity, the third component of Grit. In the context of overcoming adversity, or working to achieve any goal, Integrity is about following through on our commitments, especially when our circumstances change. We owe it to ourselves, to the person we made the commitment to, and collectively, we owe it to the team to always do what we said we would do, especially when there is a change in circumstance.
The Team First Mentality is the final component of Grit. I believe we should always think about our teammates first. We should train ourselves to think We before me. Sometimes we’ll just have to do things because it’s what the team needs. If do our very best to fill our role(s) to the best of our ability, the only impact we will have on our teams is a positive impact. “A rising tide can lift all boats!”
I believe that part of the reason I survived two plane crashes, endured tragic losses, and made a great recovery, is to help others. I have been sharing my story and message about grit and thriving in the midst of adversity to inspire others to overcome the adversity they face in the years since. The question I had to find the answer to was how can I thrive in the midst of the adversity that I faced? We all face challenges every day, and I believe that it is my purpose to help others find ways to thrive in the midst of them.
“In the space I serve, my goal is to assist clients and their families in preparing for what’s next. Absolutely no one could’ve prepared Austin Hatch for what was to come next in his life as a plane crash survivor as a young boy and again at 16-years-old that left him in critical condition. Austin has felt the pain of losing family members in an instant and the heavy grief that would be nearly impossible for anyone to overcome. Yet, overcome is exactly what Austin did. He battled back to recover from his physical injuries and drove himself hard to become a member of the University of Michigan Basketball Team. Austin taught those around him that a mindset like his cannot be held down. He channels this grit, focus and energy into helping others understand that life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s how you respond to adversity. Austin is a shining example that through the struggles and loss one might have, you are strong enough to overcome any challenge and help those around you to be better. It’s an honor to know Austin, see his exemplary character and I recommend him to the highest degree.”
“Having heard and seen Austin’s story we were looking for a speaker that could come talk to our sales and support teams about overcoming adversity. After a tough year in 2019, we wanted them to have optimism that they could win and believe in themselves. Austin was the PERFECT speaker for our team. His message of GRIT and overcoming adversity was so personal and authentic that everyone believed that they too could overcome adversity. Who knew that it would set us up for dealing with the COVID-19 fallout in the marketplace. To this day, our teams reference Austin’s story and the GRIT behind it. Austin is such a passionate and motivating speaker. We were honored to have him come talk to us and help the Mspark team!”
“I have known Austin since he was at the University of Michigan. I knew him, knew his story, and knew about his outlook on life. So, I asked him to speak to my team about Grit. After an hour, I realized there was so much about his story and about he approaches his daily life that I did not know. His message of determination, positivity, and purpose resonated with each of us in attendance. Austin’s speaking style is authentic, his message is incredibly unique, and his view of life is refreshing. Each time I hear Austin speak, I am left exhilarated, focused, and committed to making those around me better.”