Today was quite a long day. Between a poor night’s sleep, a day chock-full of productive meetings, almost missing my flight, and an unfriendly cab driver, I was exhausted. Coupled with a messy kitchen and a boat-load of laundry to do (not to mention writing this), I was absolutely drained.
I know what you are thinking: the classic “woe is me” type post. But I am not, by any means, going on this rant to complain or to fish for empathy. Rather, what I would like to take this opportunity to highlight an extremely important concept: the grind.
See, it is not every day that we can be inspired to the point of excitement, to the point where we love every single task we complete. In every project or process, there is bound to be a step or two that we don’t necessarily love. Whether it is a bad day where you were fatigued, but pushed through, or when you spent an entire afternoon sending vital, yet tedious emails; you won’t always do the things that you love to do. Sacrifices need to be made.
This is perfectly natural; it is the “this too shall pass” principle, applied at its finest. It is virtually impossible to be passionate about 100% of the tasks that are required to reach success. There will always be some components that you don’t wholeheartedly enjoy. Performing these necessary tasks – tasks that enable progress to ultimately support further inspiration – is known as “the grind”.
Below is this concept, codified in a graph of inspiration versus time, for any given project.
Uninspired or Unaware – This is the stage we are all at prior to the project’s conception or our awareness of it
Initial Spark – This is that dopamine and adrenaline rush we all feel when we hear about or think about the amazing idea surrounding the project for the first time; we start immediately getting to work and sometimes even lose sleep thinking about it
The Grind – The initial spark begins to fade, preliminary obstacles and tedious tasks begin to slow progress to a less than ideal rate; inspiration is flat or even decreases
Re-inspiration – The hard work invested from the grind begins to pay off, progress is made and things begin to speed up; morale is boosted
This is a cycle that typically repeats itself indefinitely, over the course of a project. The key is to fully embrace the periods of peaked inspiration, using them as momentum to propel your team through the grind.
When in the grind, it is essential to do three things:
- Celebrate any bursts of inspiration or progress towards the ultimate goal
- Appreciate the grind for what it is, a series of growing pains that bring you closer to your goal
- Learn from any negative progress, prevent the same mistakes from reoccurring, resetting quickly
By doing these three things, you will be equipped to make it through the grueling times, in order to make it to the fruitful end stages. You will be primed to surpass sticking points and power through plateaus.
The grind is not something limited to the business world; it encompasses anything. From athletes trying to reach a new high, to the average person trying to improve themselves, the grind is a reality. There will be days when it seems impossible to keep going, yet so easy to give up. But remember: appreciate the grind, this temporary discomfort will lead to long-term benefit. As Shia Labeouf said it best, “If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.”
So, on days like today, I fully embrace the grind, accepting it for what it is: hard-earned progress. If you want to reach your goals faster than ever, while exercising and improving your mental strength, I highly recommend this change of frame for you as well.