So you have a dream. You want to be successful, to have the things you want and to live the life you have only imagined, so far. That's great. Now the only thing standing in your way is one pesky little detail...the grind.
Why is it called the grind? Well, think about it for a moment. To grind something would have us repeatedly reduce something into smaller particles by crushing it, and that's precisely what needs to be done for you to achieve your greatness. Now grinding, in this context at least, is tedious and laborious, which is why we have invented machinery and super whiz-bang gadgets to deal with much of the drudgery; but the grind exists in entrepreneurship too.
I met with Rebecca recently, a very young and dynamic start-up entrepreneur with a natural penchant for blue-sky thinking. There is no doubt in my mind that Rebecca will be running her own country before she's 30, but when I asked about her plans for the smaller scale, but equally essential aspects of her business, I was presented with a wrinkled up nose of disgust. Rebecca was reluctant to “waste” her time on i.e.: social media, networking and building marketing pillars, which would be fine if she had a team to delegate to, but she currently does not. Rebecca wants to do her specialised thing and not be distracted by the grind, so I told her about my friend Claire.
Claire had a goal. Claire wanted to complete the 2016 London Marathon. Claire's vision saw her crossing the finish line, collecting her Finisher's Medal and raising money for Havens Hospices. That was the big picture, in all its admirable living colour. Now how did Claire achieve that? Well, she sure as hell didn't just rock up to the start line on Sunday 24 April, with a new pair of trainers and a big hope for the best. Claire's repeated visualisation of crossing the line and collecting her medal amongst charitable donations certainly helped to keep her going throughout the 26.2 marathon miles, but it took a lot more (decidedly unglamorous) effort than that to get her there.
Needless to say, Claire spent years training her mind and body to become an amateur district runner in the first instance. Then she trained to become an instructor, before making the initial decision to compete in the 2016 marathon. Oh, and then the grind set in - with bells on! Claire had to dedicate her life to training, because this was going to happen; she was going for the Finisher's Medal now, and nothing was going to stop her. This meant a brutal training regime dictated the best part of Claire's year, in all weathers, in all conditions, to prepare her for the most grueling 4+ hours of her life. Claire told me once that training in harsh, wintry conditions was essential, because it made her stronger. A more powerful metaphor for life itself could not be found
Without this grind, without the morale-challenging slog and the sheer bloody-minded determination, Claire was never going to be fit enough, or prepared enough to finish the marathon. Long story short, I am proud and delighted to confirm that Claire finished the marathon in 4hrs 27mins and 12secs – they're her trainers, and that's her Finisher's Medal in the image above. Now she's preparing to take herself out of her comfort zone yet again, by facing her fears and completing a wing walk (in aid of Havens Hospices once more) in the summer, but that's perhaps another blog, for another day. I really do have the most amazing friends, but I digress.
RISE AND GRIND
When you begin a business, or your quest for success, you naturally begin at the start line. You have an enormously long journey ahead of you, and it's essential that you're batshit crazy and passionate about what you're doing, because it's precisely this passion that will keep you moving forwards when the motivation, energy and money run low. You have to take each boring and laborious (baby) step until opportunity knocks – and you have to hit the wall harder than it hits you. You can go as slowly as you need to go, but don't ever stop moving – forwards is forwards! When opportunity does eventually knock, you must still be around to answer the call. So many people quit just when they're within touching distance of greatness. In fact I challenge you to read Napoleon Hill's Think & Grow Rich – and the Three Feet From Gold story in particular. If that doesn't change your entire outlook on life, nothing will.
As it was essential for Claire to train in harsh, wintry conditions to make her stronger, Rebecca has to complete the boring and laborious grind to fully develop herself (i.e.: knowledge, stamina, skill set and experience), as well as her business. Rebecca must understand the intricate machinations of her business, before they can ever be delegated to someone else in the future, because you cannot ask anyone to do anything that you would not be prepared to do yourself.
A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way - John C. Maxwell
Another case in point leads me to recommend Bounce: The Myth Of Talent And The Power of Practice by Matthew Syeed. When pondering upon what talent is, Syeed details the work of Anders Ericsson, a psychologist at Florida State University. Ericsson, and two colleagues, studied violinists at the Music Academy of West Berlin. The musicians were divided into three groups: the outstanding, the extremely good and the eventual music teachers; and a series of painstaking interviews got under-way. Ericsson and his colleagues found that by the age of twenty, the outstanding violinists had practised an average of ten thousand hours – more than two thousand more than the extremely good violinists and more than six thousand hours more than the eventual music teachers. In essence, the top performers had devoted thousands of additional hours to the task of becoming master performers.
Purposeful practice is the only factor distinguishing the best from the rest. You must complete the work - the grind - and you really must hustle to achieve the success and greatness you seek. The only way Claire achieved her marathon medal was by putting one foot in front of the other a gazillion times, regardless of the pain, and despite the tedium or prevailing conditions. The grind must go on. There are no short cuts to sustainable success.
Grind whilst they sleep. Learn whilst they party. Live like they dream!
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