What, exactly, is “the grind?”
We have to look to antiquity for the origin of the term, because we technically don’t do much in the way of literal grinding today.
Before the industrial age, the process of making flour from wheat required considerable physical labor. Kernels of wheat were ground between large stones, typically called millstones.
Similarly, refining and sharpening metal required the use of manually-driven stone wheels called grindstones.
At some point, the concept of doing hard, repetitive work was referred to as having one’s “nose to the grindstone,” or, simply, to grind.
It’s an apt etymology for a term that not only describes the act of working hard, but of refining something raw and making it useful. Whether it’s the wheat made into wholesome flour, or the metal honed into a fine blade, the notion of grinding to perfection is a fitting metaphor for mastery and self-improvement.
And yet, we seldom enjoy the grind. The very term bears a bitter connotation. Because the grind is WORK.
We don’t like to work. Just as the industrial age brought about machines to do the literal milling and grinding for us, the digital age has made physical and repetitive tasks almost entirely unnecessary. We’re spoiled by automation and convenience at nearly every point in our lives now.
You can go from cradle to grave at a level of comfort that would have seemed opulent a hundred years ago, without having to work towards mastering anything. Not your trade. Not your physique. Not your education. Nothing. There’s simply no incentive for it anymore. It’s easy enough to just get by.
There’s a lot of talk about the widening gap between the rich and the poor, between the elite and the mediocre, and an argument could be made that there are fewer that reach the ranks of the elite today because there’s no need to do anything close to the amount of work it takes to get there.
Average, in the first world, is pretty comfortable. Average will get you enough food to make you obese and enough television and internet to make sure you never have to leave your sofa.
Do you want to be average?
Then you need to master something. Preferably a few things. And that’s going to take work. Repetitive, daily, long-term work. A lifetime of work.
That notion might depress you, but it ought to invigorate you. We know that we are what we do – so if all you do is work towards mastering something, then that is what you become.
Master your physique. Master your health. Master your nutrition. Master your education. Master your profession.
Embrace the grind that mastery demands. Embrace it as if your life depends upon it; because your life DOES depend upon it. The life you want. The only life you have. This is it. It’s all you’ve got.
What are you going to do with it?
Make excuses? Great men and women have emerged from far worse circumstances than you are in right now. I can guarantee this, because you have sufficient resources at your disposal to read this article. That alone gives you more than Abraham Lincoln had for an education. Or Frederick Douglass. Or John D. Rockefeller. Or Anne Frank.
Lack of education isn’t an excuse.
And lack of money isn’t an excuse, either. Money doesn’t buy you any shortcuts to mastery. You still have to do the work. You can point your fingers at the athletes who are “obviously on steroids,” but steroids don’t build muscle if you sit on your ass. You can dismiss the Hollywood stars who can afford personal trainers and nutritionists to help get them into shape, but, guess what?
They still have to do the work.
Yes, they pay for an elevated degree of accountability, and, yes, they have a fantastic financial incentive to do the work.
But they still do the work. And you can still do the work.
Someone with less time and less money is doing the work right now. At this very moment, you are, in fact, being out-hustled by someone who has a better excuse than you do.
You make the decision. Average is fine. Average is comfortable. Average is easy.
Mastery is difficult. Mastery takes a lot of work. Mastery is painful, repetitive, monotonous, and often very lonely.
Mastery is also great.
It starts with your mindset.
You have to embrace the grind.
Savage: A person who is perceived as primitive, uncivilized, and brutal. A savage is an animalistic force of nature; fierce, violent, and uncontrolled.
Disciplined: Controlled. Following a code of behavior. Trained to do something in a habitual way.
Savages have changed the course of civilization. The Mongols ravaged most of Asia, Russia, and Europe. The Vikings, and their descendants, the Normans, pillaged continental Europe and the British Isles for centuries. They were classified as savages due to their martial brutality, but they were, in fact, a disciplined fighting force. They were undeniably effective, and their beleaguered neighbors were forced to grow strong or submit to their influence.
Any foreign invader is often classified as “savage” by their prey; largely because they are more aggressive than their targeted enemy, and they can attack without provocation. The Roman Empire would have been seen as savages by their rivals in the Middle East and Europe. The Greeks doubtless saw the Persians as savages. The British Empire during the Victorian Era was considered savage by their colonial subjects. The Nazis were savages. The Americans in Vietnam and the Middle East have been called savage.
Savage is a label we give to an aggressor we don’t understand and we can’t easily overcome. They don’t play by our rules. They don’t obey the laws and conventions of our civilization. So we label them thusly in an attempt to marginalize their behavior, while acknowledging their aggression.
The fact is, every great empire in history appeared as a savage to the peoples it conquered. But it wasn’t just their aggression that made them effective.
It was discipline.
Aggression alone isn’t enough. It has to have purpose. Meaning. It has to be practiced with precision and expertise. It has to be a habit you cultivate. And you have to break the rules and ignore convention.
The Vikings were hostile, and brutal, but they were also the finest, most expert seamen of their age. All of northern Europe had to get stronger to withstand them. In many cases, they simply did so by assimilation with their Scandinavian aggressors – every Englishman, Scotsman, and Irishman today likely has a Nordic ancestor.
During the Victorian Era, the sun never set on the British Empire. Even the American colonists saw the Redcoats as hostile and uncaring oppressors. But there was no doubting their might and their discipline – and the Americans had to become even more savage to win their independence. George Washington was a brilliant strategist not for his ability to meet the British head-to-head, but for how he organized an untrained militia and employed guerilla warfare to harass a superior opponent and win a war by attrition.
Today, the United States military is the most potent martial force in history, but if you spend just a few moments with its most elite warriors, you will have no doubt: you are in the presence of a savage.
A disciplined savage. A man who has studied warfare and made an art of becoming the world’s most effective soldier. A man who knows history, who pursues peak fitness, and who is constantly aware of his surroundings, constantly looking for threats, and opportunities.
Disciplined savagery is largely a cultural phenomenon, but it can be found in individuals throughout history, and in our society today. We will continue to profile them here, and examine what makes them successful, looking for the common elements that comprise the formula it takes to change the world.
What type of person are you?
Most people would give an answer extolling some virtue they claim to have. “I’m honest. I’m hard-working. I’m dedicated.”
Because most people are not as habitually virtuous as they would like to believe. Especially when nobody’s watching.
Do you slack off at work, and justify it in your own mind, because, “The company screws people over all the time. Everyone else does it. My manager’s not going to care as long as ‘x-y-z’ is done.”
Do you cheat on your nutritional objectives, because, “I’m stressed. It’s just one meal/snack. I’ll burn it off later.”
Do you skip workouts, because, “I’m tired. I’m busy. I need more time to recover. I’m still a little sore.”
Sure you do. And why not? Nobody’s holding you accountable. You’re a grown adult. You do what you want.
But is that who you are?
Is that who you want to be?
You need to ask yourself. Not once. Not occasionally. Every time.
You’re in the car. You missed lunch. McDonald’s is right along the way. You need to tell yourself, “I am not the kind of person that eats that garbage.”
It’s 5:30 a.m. The alarm goes off, but you need five more minutes. You need to tell yourself, “I am not the kind of person that hits ‘snooze’ and skips a workout.”
You can choose weakness. Or you can choose strength. And you get to choose all day. Every day. There are plenty of chances to be weak. And just as many to be strong.
Strength of body. Strength of mind. Strength of will. Strength of character.
You can read about it. You can write about it. You can talk about it. But it’s what you do about it that counts. It’s what you do about it that makes you who you are, and who you want to be.
Define yourself. Every day.
by Noble Brown
When we started Sociopathletic, we knew exactly what sort of company we wanted it to be. We wrote a Manifesto. We started working on products and content. We had a hundred great ideas all at once.
And then someone asked us, “What kind of company is it?”
We realized we didn’t have a quick answer for that. It was easy to describe, if you had five minutes for me to tell you about it, but in under 30 seconds? We had to boil it down.
So, here’s the essence of what Sociopathletic is, in a few brief paragraphs that could be delivered in less time than it takes to ride an elevator. Maybe we’ll eventually get it down to under 140 characters…
We are a lifestyle philosophy company that gives a label to a dying breed that doesn’t need it, because we want to find and build up more like us.
Society used to hold us accountable to certain values: Hard work. Fitness. Readiness. Self-improvement. Intelligence. Wisdom. Honesty.
We are cultivating a community of individuals who maintain these values under their own self-accountability – the aggressive go-getters who set high goals for themselves and sustain lofty expectations for what they want in all aspects of life.
They’re the sort of people who get out and do the things ordinary people only fantasize about.
The disciplined savages.