On The Grind

Nathan - Edina, Minnesota
Entered on February 22, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: carpe diem, work

The term “grind” can refer to a skateboarding move, but I like to use the term in a completely different sense. I try to think that to grind something is to embody the essence of life. Grinding means to do something repetitively, keeping an eventual goal in mind. I’ve found myself grinding in video games, trying to reach that next level. In competitive sports, it’s the practices and the trips to the weight room that make up the grind. Whatever the grind may be, it’s always the substance that brings commitment and ability together as one.

A kid I know told me “If I lifted weights everyday, then I’d be stronger than so-and-so.” He was probably right, the kid is naturally strong and he would undoubtedly gain more strength from consistent weight lifting. But a situation like this is evidence that it’s never enough to formulate hypotheses. Effort is not something that can be solved for; it has to be earned. Doing the grind is so simple to think about, but much more difficult to act upon. Most things that are repetitive are in turn very boring. The grind is a test of patience and only the most persistent and goal-centered can handle the toughest of grinds.

It’s important to recognize that in grinding towards a specific goal, the achievement of that goal is not a necessity. In fact, it can be distracting to have the goal on one’s mind during the grind. If circumstances don’t work out the way the person expects and the goal is not accomplished, that person may be tempted to think that the grind was not worth the time. This type of thinking contradicts what the grind is all about. The point of the grind is to realize that the greatest success can only come with the most consistent and repetitive effort.

The law of diminishing returns says that as more effort is put into something, over time less and less will result of the same amount of work input. This is undeniably true to an extent, but just because we get less out of the time we put in, doesn’t mean that we should stop doing it because we won’t improve as much. The grind is about gaining an understanding of commitment. Goals and improvement are the bonus items of the experience. Part of the grind is also realizing that it is never really over. We always have goals in mind and we must always put in repetitive efforts to keep moving forward.

The biggest revelation anyone can have from doing the grind is the idea that the present moment is what counts. It’s the realization that the grind is a string of events in which, even with higher goals in mind, we take each day and each opportunity seriously, and we understand that each step of the way is just as important as the last or the next. If variety is the spice of life, the grind is what fills us up.