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“Anyway, I wanted to end this on a hopeful, positive note, but, seeing as how my sense of hope and positivity is still shrouded in a thick layer of feeling like hope and positivity are bullshit.

I’ll just say this: Nobody can guarantee that it’s going to be okay, but — and I don’t know if this will be comforting to anyone else — the possibility exists that there’s a piece of corn on a floor somewhere that will make you just as confused about why you are laughing as you have ever been about why you are depressed.

And even if everything still seems like hopeless bullshit, maybe it’s just pointless bullshit or weird bullshit or possibly not even bullshit.

I don’t know.

But when you’re concerned that the miserable, boring wasteland in front of you might stretch all the way into forever, not knowing feels strangely hope-like.”

Allie Brosh

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“Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.”

Markus Zusak

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This is about the grind and how many people make your grind seem like misery (despite it making you happy).

The grind. I imagine most of us look at day to day work as having a fundamental grindness to it. Not exactly mundane, but a sense of “working your way through what needs to be done.” Yes. If you like what you do, it isn’t a bad grind. Even if you aren’t sure you like what you do, you put up with the not-so-good grind aspects because there are glimpses of ‘not grind surprises’.

All that said.

The grind is actually rhythm. It offers a basic cadence to life and our work. This cadence is very personal, although a business should pay attention to it, and often is incredibly foundational to a successful career.

We get a paycheck. We have responsibilities. We have to do lists. We get annual reviews. We have bills to pay. We have financial responsibilities (some accepted as part of Life and some reflection of poorer choices).

All of those things do not seem complex, but it is complexity cloaked in the simplicity of a grind. If I were a contrarian, I could suggest this is the ultimate elegance of simplicity. That said. I would note we take all this complexity, under the grander narrative of ‘the grind’, and we establish a rhythm which for the most part doesn’t keep us up at night because, well, it works. Call it a coping mechanism, call it “life efficacy”, call it what you want, but make sure you see ‘the grind’ for what it is.

To be clear. This is not a rut.

** Note: ornière, rodera, keréknyom,   kiima  <rut> or être en rut, in een sleur, essere in un solco, olla kiima <be in a rut>.  Rut as in ‘an elongated hole.’ Oh my. So being too consistent or predictable is living in a hole? Yup. And here is a reminder about holes, they typically

<a> have slippery slopes leading down to the bottom>,

<b> it is really really difficult to stop sliding down a slippery slope once on it and

<c> you need someone to pull you out of the hole once you are in it <or you stay in it>. Just ponder.

To be clear. “Grind” is simply the rhythm of everyday life managing the good aspects and the not-as-good and what we take in and what we give out.

This rhythm offers some consistency.

And, yes, most of us like some consistency in our lives. We like some consistency and some predictability to provide a solid backbone to our lives.

This is not consistency just for comfort sake (which is actually the hobgoblin of small minds).

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Now. The grind is surprisingly difficult to explain because it often walks a razor thin balance of several things <please note … this is not research but rather Bruce quasi-vapid thinking>:

– Consistent/predicted behavior <a planned list of things to do>

– Planned spontaneity <think vacations or scheduled parties or outings>.

– Random spontaneity <shit that just happens>.

And I would suggest <using my research brain knowledge> that this razor thin balance, this fragility, is maybe an 80%-15%-5% <with a +/- 2.5% margin of error> Life mix.

Yup.

Me, the lover of not being too predictable, accepts the fact that having the majority of Life be familiar and consistent and predictable as good. Because with some people, using my margin of error, less than 2.5% of your entire Life can actually consist of any true spontaneity and you could be one of the happiest non-hobgoblins on the face of the earth.

Oh.

Please note that I believe “planned spontaneity’ is possibly the biggest oxymoron of this generation.

** note: We are so obsessed with time and ‘maximizing each available moment’ for fear of ‘wasting anything’ that we actually plan our free time. This kind of seems nuts to me.

I sometimes believe that in our objective driven world focused on predictability <and measuring success> makes the grind even more fragile because, if components of that grind predictability are removed, it is almost like playing a constant game of pick-up-sticks. In other words my grind immediately is no longer simply a grind, but chaos.

But that is where predictability rears its ugly head. Predictability and consistency is often measured in today’s world as not only the process, the routine or rhythm, but also in the result.

And maybe that is where I do begin to edge into consistency being the hobgoblin of small minds.

I would be foolish to suggest we don’t all aim for more positive results than negative ones because we all want to be happy and positive results do beget positive feelings.

But if you live your life solely focused on ‘only doing what will make me happy <or has the highest probability of happiness> based on predictable behavior, well, that actually makes your grind, even with the best of intentions, even more fragile.

Regardless. Life has a habit of squeezing you and when it does it actually exposes the fragility of the grind.

“You know, sometimes in life you can get kinda stuck and you feel like you should have changed chapters by now, but you can’t.”

Wish I Was Here <Aidan>

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I imagine what I am suggesting is ‘the grind’ gets a bad rap. I am suggesting that the grind, while it often seems a solid, indestructible, aspects of life is actually quite fragile. I am also suggesting that those two things, in combination, is a dangerous misunderstanding.

You know who knows this? The grinders. The ones who find the joy in making shit happen and the ones, in particular, who like to grind out good shit. The grind CAN produce continuous improvement and continuous progress. The grind does NOT have to be incrementalism or compromise or simply digging a bunch of semi-useless ditches.

The grind is often the path between being who you are and who you want to be.

The grind is knowing there is a better version of you and refusing to get stuck being the current version of you. The grind may not look like the fastest way, or the flashiest way, to being better but it FEELS like a solidly effective way of ensuring in the end you will have got closer to a better version. In fact, the grind makes you happy.

And maybe this is where the fragility of the grind has its most important aspect. Grinds, and grinding, is progress and, yet, the system, the society, and a shitload of false prophets, suggest the grind will not lead to riches (money or meaning). All of these ‘influencers’ suggest disruption is the path to all the things you need.

** note: I could argue proponents of disruption, at least the lazy simplistic ones, are the greatest enemy of happy grinders. They see the grind as status quo, not structural value creation, and see disruption as the only way to optimize value creation.

What a load of dangerous shit to be shoveling.

I will not suggest shaking the etch a sketch a bit cannot only be satisfying but also a key to some successful paths, but I will also not suggest that the grind cannot be satisfying and a key to some successful paths if you view it correctly.

Look. When you are told you shouldn’t enjoy the grind. When you are told the grind is the choice of fools or ‘small minds’ then you will inevitably begin believing those things are true – and they are not.

In fact. Believing these things increases the fragility of the grind because  when you stop enjoying things in Life <which, by the way, suggests you used to enjoy things or something and are now easing into some wasteland of maybe not misery but … well … nothingness>, or ‘anything’ I imagine, then you start seeking enjoyment anywhere you can.

This sounds weird to me.

There are a shitload of people who enjoy the grind, there are a shitload of people who think they should enjoy the grind but keep getting told the grind sucks.

There are a shitload of people who grind out a shitload of successes – often some really creative things (because the grind is not the absence of creativity and imagination).

I imagine my point is the grind is fragile. It is fragile because it gets attacked all the time and everything offered in its place really does look seductive. I think we should be pointing out that not all grinds are created equal and not all grinders’ achievements are bad. And maybe remind ourselves that the grind offers some benefits and a shitload of people are happy with those benefits.

Written by Bruce