It happens to the best of us.
Joe Montana, John Elway, Dan Marino, Michael Jordan,… have all felt it. One day it’ll get Peyton Manning and even the great Tom Brady.
Yes, it could happen to you.
So alluring is the siren call of gameday, athletes often linger well after they should have walked.
You’ve heard these words yourself: The athlete making the difficult call to hang it up says, “If I could just play the games I’d keep going. But it’s the grind–the day in day out work–that I can’t get up for any more.”
Yes, my friends… Welcome to The Grind.
I hear a similar story almost weekly from my mid-aged iron slinging friends. Many say, “I can’t find that ol’ motivation. I just don’t have it.”
They just don’t have “it,” for The Grind. It was easy to be energized by the glory stuff–the muscle man’s “game day.”
Whether it was the competitions, the photo shoots, or simply the way that extra-thick load of muscle turned heads, impacted a room, enhanced your job (say you’re in the “enforcement” line of work) or made clothes hard to find; we all had our meaning.
Large and small, carrying visible slabs of muscle on your frame has daily rewards. And yet, when the meaning begins to fade, when you’ve reached a certain place in life where what others think about your biceps couldn’t matter in the least to you, you may find yourself a few hundred voltage short of the energy required for The Grind.
I quit bodybuilding in my early 20’s, for various reasons. I did photoshoots and created physique art for nearly two decades but it was never centrally about the photos for me.
Fact is, I learned to love the grind long ago.
For me, the photos and appearances were the cake not the meat and veggies. For I had discovered the intrinsic joy in not just the completed painting but in the making of art. It’s as I once told Mike Mentzer, “If DaVinci could paint the Mona Lisa in ten strokes, would he? Of course not, for the artist has long let go of the result in favor of the process.”
No more vivid example of what it means to embrace the grind, to find joy in every set, every rep of the journey than in the extreme mountain climbers. What most see when a duo of elite climbers scale a massive rock wall, for a first ascent, is climbers going to the top.
We, assume they did what they needed to do to get to the goal, the top. For that’s how our minds work: When we see Point A and Point B we just want to get to B, now. It’s point B where all our meaning is.Climbers have long cracked the code of life, of experience, of The Grind in the shear ecstasy of each and every minute move along this ascent. The top, Point B, is just a place they agreed to go and turn around. The meaning and experience is in the journey, not the destination.
Loving The Grind is the domain of mastery. For it is the result of intrinsic, self generated, motivation. You need no applause, no flashing lights, no cheering crowd.
The meaning is in the moment, not the arrival. You can embrace and leverage goals as an elite climber uses a summit–as a place to go. An agreement on which way the journey will head. But you don’t hold your breath and suffer along the way.
Loving The Grind means you go in, you embrace the moment, you are here in the present. The work, the sweat, the pump, the challenge is, in itself, the reward.
Motivation is a complex bitch. Discipline is always on its way out. Yet, loving the grind–finding flow in the details of the journey will never let you down.
When it comes to athletes, few have ever learned to love The Grind like Peyton Manning. It was in listening to sports talk that this topic came to me. For, as many are awaiting his retirement, these guys realized that he’s the outlier, he’s the other side of the coin from the athlete who usually walks away because they love game day but can’t do The Grind.
Peyton actually loves the grind. Hard work, preparation, is imprinted in his being. And while this love for The Grind could keep him playing longer than his body may, imagine how much better your favorite athlete may have been if they too had loved The Grind.
Yes, and like you and I, loving The Grind will serve Peyton for the rest of his life off the field, too.
As a wise man once said, learn to love The Grind or life will grind you.
Learning to Love The Grind is inside you. It’s in your breath, your presence, your attention. One potent and proven way to break free from “Point B addiction” and embrace The Grind is my Zen of Strength practice: Focus Intensity Training, or F.i.T.
Learn more about F.i.T. here… and how to Fall in Love with the Grind. for Life.
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