Overcoming The Grind

worker-646443_640It has been responsible for more people quitting Systema and every other martial art versus all other reasons combined. It has taken down more great ideas, stopped more progress and stifled more dreams than Congressional gridlock.

It goes by many different names, but I typically refer to it as the Grind. You know it. You experienced it and if you are still training, you had the courage and will to overcome it.

What is the grind? It is those moments when you have to practice or train when you do not want to. It is not exciting. It is not a Vlad seminar or a special, “never before seen” movement. It is not the super-secret method that you learn, master in an hour and then drive home in the Batmobile. It is a regular class that involves repeating the basics because we have not mastered them. Then you repeat them again. Then you repeat them again, in a repetitively repeating fashion over and over. Then you repeat them again, in a repetitively repeating fashion over and over.

It is the musician who practices chords in his room when no one is listening. It is the marathoner who runs at 5am when there are no family members out there cheering her on. It is the writer who is banging away on the keyboards, because the novel is not finished. No fans. No fireworks. Just hard work and repetition.

Michaelangelo knew about the grind when he said, “If you knew how many times I practiced drawing a circle, you would not be very impressed with my work.” Legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page knows the grind. When asked how be became so talented, he replied, “While my friends were playing outside, I was playing my guitar.” Not real sexy . Then again, the grind never is.

How Do You Deal With The Grind?

The Grind can never be defeated but it can become a friend. The key is to balance the outer world with the inner world.

The outer world.Buy the new DVD or download the latest clip. Get a new shirt or go to the upcoming seminar. Use the outside world to drive your inner world. There are so many enjoyable and meaningful things that can serve as a spark or trigger to jump start motivation and drive. Do not let it be the main focus, but allow the beauty and excitement outside to shine into the inside.

The inner world. If you rely exclusively on the outer world, the grind will find you, hunt you down and take you out. That is why so many people quit after reaching black belt or get bored 3 week after a great seminar. You must find reasons — deeply personal reasons — for your continued attendance. Otherwise, you will always begin your answer with “Yes, I used to train BUT. . . . “

Struggle with fear? Have a rough time with anger or frustration? Decision-making not one of your strengths. Bring these (temporary) “weaknesses” with you on the mats. They are nothing more than stuck energy. Bring them with you when you train and when you do, you will find that they are reflected in your training. In other words, the same things that you struggle with in life are the same things that you will struggle with on the mats.

Conversely, when you work them out on the mats, you work them out in your life. You find the courage to speak face to face with someone. You learn to deal with anger or frustration. You become a master decision maker. This is the greatest and least understood value of martial arts. The hidden secret.

You can never beat the grind. It will find you over time, but if you inner/outer world is strong, the grind cannot defeat you. It will try and try and try again, but your commitment and resolve will overpower the grind.