When we first undertake anything, be it learning Systema, an instrument or running a marathon, it is extremely exciting. The juices are flowing at the thought of mastering an art or crossing the finish line. We observe others who make it look so easy and often (mistakenly) conclude that it cannot be that difficult.
For the first couple of months, enthusiasm is high. Everything is new and taking a class is a grand opportunity to jump directly into the newness. In fact, every class brings something new — new movement, new breathing patterns, new ways of doing pushups. New, new and more newness.
Over time, the gears shift. Big, gross movements are fairly easy to learn and we enter the time for refinement. Now is the time to make the corrections, contract our world, start the real work and dive into the deep end of the pool. Here is where we enter The Grind.
When we enter The Grind, we are no longer the “new kid on the block.” We step up the training. We are expected to keep up now. The newness gives way to the reality that this is difficult, challenging and will take time to learn. Only a lifetime. Maybe beyond.
It is at this point in training where one of 3 things typically happen:
- People leave. They realize that there is no quick solution, no “hack” that can be had. No shortcuts. It is slow, steady, often difficult training on a weekly basis that is required. There is no finish line, only a long, sometimes lonely road ahead.
- Others seek the shelter of seminars and special events. Here people can continue to experience the rainbows and fireworks; that is, they get to train in short burst in exotic places, with the great masters. They are able to maintain that level of newness and excitement experienced when they first started. The problem of course, is that progress is not real. Yes, you learn a bit. You refine a bit but unless you are doing the hard, consistent work, it is a very short lived feeling. Life is not always about sunrises and sunsets. It is the work in between that defines a person.
- Accepting The Grind. Here is where reality shows its head. There is the awareness of the long road — the hours training in class, training by oneself and endless corrections, knowing the same path must be walked next week. And the week after. Ad infinitum.
The Grind is humbling as you often have to go back to the starting line, despite the years and experience already gained. The Grind is difficult, as it takes commitment and discipline to come to class on a regular basis, knowing we may be covering the basics yet again. And again. And again. And. . . . . you guessed it. . . again.
On the flip side, The Grind contains may hidden gems, provided you are willing to exert the time and energy to seek them. There is a great book called “Power of Habit“ which describes how focusing on one area of life, often has a domino effort; that is, when you improve one area, many other areas “spontaneously” improve. You come to class and are open to instruction. You do this regularly and cultivate the characteristic of discipline. Over time, you also find that your memory improves, as does your concentration, patience and confidence.
I look at my own experiences with The Grind. Traveling to W. Palm every month (sometimes twice a month) for over 7 1/2 years qualifies as The Grind. During this time, only 3 people came with me for a grand total of 5 times. Ironically, none of them train anymore. Predictable. It is much easier to watch the beautiful birds in the tree, then to dig the hole and plant the tree itself.
One of the hidden values in our One Million Movement challenge is that we all get to practice The Grind. Day in and day out, we bang away at push ups, leg raises and squats. Not surprisingly, classes have gotten bigger, more energetic and everyone WITHOUT EXCEPTION has seen their skill level improve.
The Grind. Give it a shot. You never know what good great things can happen!