Practice Of Positivity
Jeannie and Steve Sanders’ True Love
– By Stacey Gualandi
“Once you jump out of a plane, you feel like you can do anything!”
Those were Nicole Justice’s first words just moments after she jumped 13,000 feet and landed in a Nevada desert drop zone, and she wasn’t alone. Four Florida friends also took a big leap of faith, and one-by-one, soared down from a PAC P-750 airplane, most of them for the first time. Their skydiving on a beautiful Saturday morning was just one of several challenges on the itinerary for this gorgeous group of go-getters who participated in a jam-packed adventure as part of G.R.I.T.—Go Reinvigorate Intrinsic Talent—a team-building and personal-growth program that combines extreme outdoor activities with leadership training tools. They shot guns, hiked through the desert, paddle boarded, and survived a ride on a Can-Am off-road vehicle. All in the name of self-improvement.
“This was about reconnecting with myself,” says Jill Locker, a married working mom. “It was empowering.”
In 2019, Jeannie Parsch Sanders launched G.R.I.T. through her company Practice of Positivity. Together with her husband Steve, this dynamic duo lead half-, full- and two-day courses that not only show the world the other side of Las Vegas, but also help people uncover their “true grit.”
“Whether it’s shooting a gun for the first time or jumping out of a plane, it allows people to build self confidence in themselves,” says Jeannie.
“It’s a fine line,” adds Steve. “You want them to get something out of it, but you don’t want to take people out there and torture them. Luckily, we found a perfect balance where people are like, ‘It wasn’t that difficult, but it was a really good learning experience.’”
Before they found a balance in life and business, Jeannie and Steve’s backgrounds couldn’t have been more diverse. She was a Siemens corporate sales and HR exec for over 20 years, and traveled the world giving leadership seminars based on her own “3 C’s” program: “Culture-Courageousness-Connectors.” (She was once invited to speak at the White House!) He was a 24-year Navy Seal who earned a Silver, and five Bronze Stars during 10 deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also owns two consulting companies for the military and entertainment industry that capitalize on his Seal background and combat skills (he once survived an avalanche with his sled attached!).
Ironically, the two first met while, wait for it: jumping tandem out of an airplane.
“I’m Type A. I was never married before Steve. I was always in control of everything and he literally looked at me and he says, ‘Listen, you don’t have to do anything. I got you.’”
Jokes Steve, who has done over 7,000 jumps, “I literally had her back, because I was attached to her back.”
From that point forward, Jeannie says they never left each other’s side. A year later, they tied the knot, moved to Las Vegas with his two kids, and soon after, married their leadership and adventure skills.
“Ever since high school, I tried to stick up for the underdog and bring people together,” says Jeannie. “I never, ever liked people feeling alone or that they couldn’t do something. I always wanted to help empower them.”
G.R.I.T. now offers multi-level programs for men and women, whether a small group looking to overcome personal obstacles or large corporate clients (like Cadillac) seeking to increase employee productivity. And Siemens just hired its former employee to customize a leadership program in March.
Jeannie says everyone gets a self-assessment, an accountability partner, and then a debrief when it’s all over. “It’s full circle: You’re not just going out and shooting some guns and hanging out.”
Steve says the program is “personal and customizable,” and that its 45 years of combined experience is what sets it apart from similar companies. That’s something I learned first-hand when I went on a recent G.R.I.T. group outing. I had never shot a gun, let alone ridden shot-gun in a Can-Am, but I overcame my nerves and went all-in. I even hit the steel target. Once. Everyone was encouraging and patient, and Steve was a stickler for safety.
One woman was so overwhelmed with emotion shooting a Glock pistol, she had to stop. With the support of her squad, she eventually tried again and hit every target. It was both a confidence-building and exhilarating experience, but I’ll hold off on skydiving for now. (#IHaveControlIssuesAKAFear).
The Sanders admit that their program is no yoga retreat and that you are going to be uncomfortable; but they also offer this simple advice: Get out of your comfort zone. “What we have seen is that every single person gets something out of it,” says Steve, “so just try it.”
While their eye is on the future—Jeannie’s 5-year vision is to host a great gala of everyone who’s gotten “gritty”—a new adventure awaits in a few months: the Sanders will be welcoming a baby girl to their team. And I’m pretty positive they got this. After all, they’ve both jumped out of a plane.
“I’m a live-life-to-the-fullest person and I feel like I always have been,” says Jeannie. “And, I think [we offer] such a cool opportunity for people to live life to the fullest. It’s such a unique experience. And why not experience it…with us.”