The Grinders Path: how to achieve your goals

thanksgiving pic

“What if the only things you have tomorrow are the things you fall on your knees and thank God for today?” I thank God for all of you every day.

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

A few days ago at work I sent a note to one of my young colleagues who is working his way into “sales”. We were celebrating a successful relationship he has built with a new client. I encouraged him by sending him the following:

“Most often, “sales” is just about being authentic, humble, consistent, and willing to get your nose bloody and keep pushing forward. You did all of the above with these guys. There’s no secret or slick-approach that works over time. Be a GRINDER! Good work.”

I didn’t think much about it again, until Thanksgiving day when I saw a post on the USA Wrestling instagram account with a wrestler celebrating. It read: IT’S TURKEY DAY, WRESTLERS! STAY  AWAY FROM THE PIE.

I actually had a cold shiver run through my body and I stared blindly out of the window for a moment in thought.

Most people I know, thankfully, don’t know real hunger. Real hunger takes a period of months to develop – its not the growling stomach variety. Its the sort that sets in deep in your bones and mind until it becomes part of you. The hunger itself becomes a constant companion or who you are. It develops a voice. It’s not defeating. It doesn’t necessarily make you angry – or anything really – it just is. It’s almost comforting. It’s always there, and when it’s not it means you’ve done something “wrong”. I know that’s hard to understand. It’s hard for me to explain.

That post about “turkey day” for wrestlers reminded me of the few thanksgiving holidays I spent as a wrestler. Thanksgiving was always particularly difficult. I have a big family who celebrates with a lot of food – a lot. My mom is a born and raised Southern Lady. She has monogrammed aprons. A big part of her joy in life is creating huge meals for her family (both direct and church family) – the sort that take multiple days to prepare. The sort that include 3 different kinds of taters and at least two kinds of beans. Both ham and Turkey. And a second “run” of mac ‘n’cheese late in the afternoon just in case the kids get hungry.

It’s always been that way, even when I couldn’t eat. I told my wife about those thanksgiving days – when my mom, the Southern Lady, would give me a few slices of turkey and steam a few celery sticks for me so I could have something with “crunch” without calories while the rest of the family enjoyed all of the traditional foods, including pumpkin pie, pecan pie, spice cake, etc. I don’t blame my mom for that. She did what I wanted. She actually forced me to eat the turkey and celery. That was a feast for me at that time of year.

I ate my turkey and steamed celery, tried to smile while my companion, hunger, was still with me.

Thanksgiving afternoon I always put on a sweat suit after “dinner” and went for a run while the feast continued and the men dozed in front of the games so that I could escape for awhile.

It’s not that way now. I eat until I’m miserable. I fall asleep before halftime. I’ve earned the right. My goals aren’t attached, necessarily, to how I manage my weight on Thanksgiving.

Back then though, I was consistent, I got my nose bloody, I was a “grinder.” I cut my weight. And managed it. And made peace with hunger on Thanksgiving.

The goal was bigger than my temptation and the easy path.

It’s what was necessary to succeed in the way I wanted to succeed. I wanted a championship. At “my” weight class. Going up in weight was admitting I couldn’t keep my weight down. So I did.

Things worth achieving don’t come easy. When I raised my arms in victory at the end of my senior season all of those missed meals were worth it, even on Thanksgiving.

I accomplished my goal, by having faith in the plan and in my own commitment. Faith that I couldn’t outsmart doing things “right”, doing things “the hard way”.

In life you’ll get your nose bloodied, the hard/right way will always feel like the hard/right way, you’ll be “hungry on thanksgiving.” Marriage, parenting, sport, Faith, and work – in all of these you’ll struggle, but persevere by grinding it out.

It’ll be worth it.

Secrets and short cuts don’t work over the long haul.

If you’re consistent, authentic, humble, and a grinder you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Don’t skip these. Don’t stuff your face, miss weight and then claim “what could have been.”

It’s okay to feast.

Just not when it’s time to make weight. Sacrifice when you must.

It’s okay to rest and recover.

But not when it’s time to do work. Be a professional when it’s time.

Are you looking for short cuts? Waiting for someone to see the value you bring? Or are you grinding it out every day – doing the work, passing on the pie and mac’n’cheese in favor of a run?

I love you,


TRAINING: resting alot right now. I start structured training next week!

Thurs – biked 40 miles

Fri: rest

Sat: rest