Grinding = Success

Grinding = Success

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The Olympics are coming next month and I am excited to cheer for the United States and watch athletes from across the world compete to be the best in their individual disciplines.  Every two years we get to experience the magic of the Olympics and whether it’s the winter or the summer games, it’s a time for the world to come together and enjoy friendly competition and hopefully at least two weeks of peace.

Athletes from obscure sports become household names and enjoy instant fame and the success that comes with doing well in the Olympics.  Whether it’s a Michael Phelps, Michelle Kwan, Mary Lou Retton, or a Carl Lewis we get caught up in the individual stories and the sacrifice that each athlete must make to be the best in the world.

I remember as a young teenager, back in the 80’s, going with my father to the U.S. Track & Field Olympic trials.  I watched a determined Carl Lewis break an American Record for the long jump in the pouring rain.  The image of his determination and focus on his record setting jump, in spite of the chaos of the wind and rain swirling around him, was an inspiration.

But what makes a person a champion?  What separates the Olympic athlete from the rest of us; even more important what is the common trait among all champions in life?  The answer is quite simple, they are grinders.

For two weeks the world focuses on these athletes.  They become our heroes and we celebrate their success and cry in their defeat.  Some of them enjoy a meteoric rise in popularity that changes their lives as a result.  It all seems so instant, but it is far from it.  What we don’t see or cannot appreciate is the countless hours and effort that it takes to reach world class success.

Sacrifice is a word that is thrown around often, but rarely do we understand the true meaning of it.  Sometimes we hear stories of the training regimen of a particular successful athlete and may catch a glimpse of what an athlete does to prepare for an event.  It always grabs my attention when I hear what a person is capable of accomplishing if he is willing to grind at life.

When I run into any person that has achieved some level of success, I know I’m looking at a grinder.  So what is a grinder?  This is a person that is willing to focus and to limit his distractions.  This person is not great at many things, but instead has decided to be unbelievable at a few.  He has purpose in his life and wakes up each morning willing to do what it takes to fulfill that purpose.  He often declines invitations to cool events or fun activities in order to stay focused on that burning desire to achieve that one thing that stirs deep within his soul.

Grinders set goals and follow-up on them.  If you enter a grinder’s room or office, you will often find written goals posted somewhere close where they can be seen and meditated on.  Grinders seek out other grinders and associate with success, because they know they cannot achieve greatness alone.  Grinders are coachable and teachable, but will go against the grain of society.  A grinder refuses to follow the masses, because the masses will never win a gold medal or break from the norm to achieve the pinnacles of success.

A grinder studies his craft and is not afraid to fail, because he understands that failure is a stepping stone towards success.  He is not risk averse and lives a life of perspective.  It is hard to intimidate a grinder because his path is clear and he does not allow the negative opinions of others to penetrate his psyche.  A grinder is on a path of success that is often narrow and less traveled; therefore, he cannot afford to slow down and wait for others that are not willing to take the journey with him.  The path is often lonely, but he is willing to take it because the destination is a dream that he is unwilling to let go of in his heart.

Peyton Manning is a grinder.  When I lived in Colorado, I would travel down to Invesco Field whenever the Indianapolis Colts would come to town so I could watch the Colts take on the Denver Broncos.  More importantly I would go to watch Peyton perform his magic on the football field.

Several years ago, I watched Peyton play a Monday Night Football game at Invesco Field.  After the game, late in the evening as I was driving home, I passed a convoy of charter buses taking the Colts back to the airport.  It was late, dark, and lonely on the road that night as I passed the convoy.  On one particular bus, all the lights were off and I assumed the players were resting as they rode silently towards the airport.  However, there was a single light shining from one of the seats where a player was sitting.  As I passed by the bus I saw the image of Peyton flipping through a stack of paperwork, studying.  Everyone else on that bus sat in darkness, but Peyton was grinding and that is one big reason why he is on his way to winning his 5th Most Valuable Player Award this year.

We all have needs, wants, desires, and dreams.  There is something burning deep within all of our souls, but are we willing to grind it out to achieve success?  The world is filled with bitter people that are not willing to grind it out for their dream and because of that, they are miserable.  Many are not willing to be grinders, are you?



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  1. wow man very encouraging to me. i have a very strong passion to compose music. i try to compose but fail at completing a song, and so get discouraged and have to take a break for months at a time. i always try to hold faith in God that He will bless it. just want you to know this article has given me encouragement to try again. So God Bless man.

    1. Hey Buck, the fact that you struggle with your work tells me that you are right on track! Don’t lose hope as every artist feels exactly what you are feeling right now. The main thing is to keep creating and pushing forward as your success is just around the corner. My wife and I have several musician friends and all of them struggle with what you describe. May I recommend a book that was very helpful to me? Steven Pressfield’s War of Art was an excellent read and was written with folks like you and I in mind. Although I don’t necessarily agree with Pressfield’s theology, his principles and discussion about the “resistance” is excellent. Keep me updated on your progress. I’m pulling for you.


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