Does writing on your steno machine come easily to you? Are you passing tests fairly frequently and progressing ahead of schedule, well ahead of your peers? If so, you are what I would consider a “natural” writer, and you are in the minority. I know several reporters who breezed through school in as little as a year and a half. One reporter I know passed her 260 Q&A before graduation. Wow!
If you are one of the students in the majority, struggling to stay afloat day after day and fighting to stave off the feelings of self-doubt, you may find comfort in knowing that grit can sometimes be more important than raw talent.
I define “grit” as mental toughness, an intense resolve to succeed and the tenacity to focus and persevere despite the obstacles and distractions around you. There are many examples of people who accomplished great things through sheer determination. James Earl Jones overcame severe stuttering to become a famous actor; Stephen King’s first novel was rejected thirty times, but he is now a prolific author whose books have sold over 350 million copies; and Walt Disney, despite having only an eighth-grade education and almost no formal art training, built an empire where dreams really do come true.
As a court reporting student, grit is what will propel you forward, one word per minute at a time. Set your goals, put in as much quality practice as you can, and eschew excuses. Do this every single day. Remind yourself of what drew you to court reporting in the first place, and let that motivate you to dig in and press on. It will be difficult and will require every ounce of self-discipline you have, but in the long run you will succeed.
Every working court reporter still relies on grit to make it out there. Attorneys’ expectations are high. There are many demands placed on them by their clients, and those demands get passed on to us. It is our job to deliver. The finest court reporters produce transcripts of the highest quality on time all the time no matter what. They offer realtime services often under less-than-ideal conditions, multiple iPads at a time, some clients receiving live feeds in remote locations. They produce daily copy of high-profile, high-stakes trials that go on for weeks. Their raw realtime is projected on large screens in packed convention halls or on television screens across the nation, such as for the recent raucous presidential debates. How much true grit does that take?
So cultivate your true grit! It is never too late. If you embrace it, it is a mindset that will take you to a higher level. Just ask the majority of court reporters who were once in your shoes. True grit got them through school, and true grit gets them through the most difficult and demanding of assignments as certified working professionals.