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Thursday, March 3

Above The Grind

He’s nearly six feet with an athletic build and a million-dollar smile, compassionate, well-groomed, easygoing and brilliant. The makings of your ideal guy, right? Not so fast. I should also mention that he’s approaching 30 and jobless, lives at home with his mama and borrows money from friends.

So, how does a brilliant young man with multiple degrees and aspirations to become a lawyer and sports agent end up in his mom’s basement? The explanation is simple; he places himself above the grind.

Grind (intransitive verb): to do hard, menial or monotonous work.

He delayed law school to first gain financial stability (from a job that he’s not diligently looking for). He quit a previously held post because he didn’t like his less intelligent manager telling him what to do. His mind stores many inventive ideas but his heart lacks the burning hunger to put (and keep) them in motion.

Intelligence doesn’t exempt you from the grind, it actually marries you to it. And if you decide not to participate in your marriage….well, you might find yourself in a similar position.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he gives examples of the grind and how it helped produce various household names. Bill Joy started programming when he was a freshman in college. From that point on, it became his life. “He programmed whenever he could,” notes Gladwell. “He even got a job with a computer science professor so he could program over the summer.” After graduating from college, he co-founded the Silicon Valley firm Sun Microsystems, which was one of the most critical players in the computer revolution.

Near the beginning of their career, The Beatles performed for 270 nights in just over a year and a half, and “by the time they had their first burst of success in 1964, they had performed live an estimated twelve hundred times,” according to Outliers.

Founder of Microsoft Bill Gates, though very well-to-do, wasn't above the grind. He started programming when he was 13. When he was 16, he used the computers at a local college from 3-6 am to get more practice programming; this was the only time that the college’s computers were available.

In another example, Gladwell recaps a research study that focused on world-class violinists. The research suggested, according to Outliers, “that once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it.”

Each example highlights innately talented and probably well connected people, but their grind separated them from others in their field and contributed tremendously to their success. This brings up a good point. Their grind was directed toward a passion or interest. An aimless grind is futile and simply means you’re working hard for no real reason.

Look at your own friends. It’s probably safe to assume that the ones who have identified their passion and work at it daily are in a much different place than the friends who don’t.

In essence, if you are not grinding, you are not growing. The grind builds character and confidence, and some form of it is absolutely necessary for success. If you place yourself above the grind, you place yourself above winning. And who doesn’t want to win? Well, maybe the six foot guy with an athletic build and million-dollar smile.

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