What’s a Grinder?
I am a simple guy who finds joy in simple things. So, as I sat at the breakfast table the other day with my 16-year-old daughter and had the opportunity to bring together my love of hockey with some friendly parenting advice (that invariably ends up being her teaching me a lesson) I felt giddy. It started with Ellie saying, “Do you know what I find kind of annoying?” A question, given her age, that could have infinite answers, I replied, “Do tell.” With a fair amount of frustration in her voice she replied, “People who don’t have to study hard in math and still somehow they get A’s.” I am certain some look indicating I was about to give her a lecture flashed across my face because she tried to flee as fast as she made that remark, but I caught her and she agreed to hear me out.
So, I begin to tell her….”in hockey (yes the greatest sport ever) there is a role that ranks right up there with the goal-scorers, the stalwart goalie, and the tough-guy fighters, but yet maybe you’ve never heard of this role. It is the “grinder.” Most grinders will never acknowledge the role because bringing attention to oneself flies in the face of being a grinder. The grinder is the guy who isn’t the best skater, certainly not the best stick handler, rarely scores, and is not the biggest/fastest/strongest guy on the team, oh and he is most often the guy who sports the worst haircut.
But the grinder, he is the guy who never gives up, who goes into the corner knowing he is likely to get hit hard, the guy who will chase after that little rubber puck and anyone on who isn’t on his team possessing the biscuit with a determination second to none. The grinder is a “blue-collar, lunch pail, time-clock punching” kind of guy.” In Ellie’s world, a grinder is a classmate who is going to have to study as hard as they can to hopefully pull a B on the math test.
I also think of the grinder when I think about the guys we’ve met here at Face It who learn to best cope with the feelings of depression and anxiety they experience. These are the guys who accept that at times life can be quite difficult, whether that is circumstantial or one of those times when they find themselves depressed for no easily identifiable reason. What I watch these guys do when they’re struggling is to roll up their sleeves and go to work. They’ve come to learn there are often no easy quick fixes, but rather they dig out their journal and start writing. They dust off the phone list and make a call to another guy who gets it. They take a step back and realize that while life is hard right now, they still have much to be thankful for. They battle the flood of negative thoughts that wants to take over by challenging these unwelcomed beliefs and reframing them toward the positive.
In other words, they grind. They work, they push, and they keep trying even when everything in their body tells them to quit, all the while knowing there won’t be a ticker-tape parade waiting for them just because they put in effort to help themselves. I have also seen (and certainly learned for myself) is that in this approach one can appreciate that they are far stronger than they ever thought they were. You learn that just maybe some of life’s “challenges” are life’s rich gifts that help us grow. You learn you don’t always need acknowledgment from others to find you are a good person. And you learn the patience to see that life, with all the good and the not so good, is just life and you can indeed frame it up to be better than your depression would have you believe!