Recently, Tiger Woods explained his primary regret looking back on his golf career.
““Not to run so much,” Woods said. “Running over 30 miles a week for probably my first five or six years on Tour pretty much destroyed my body and my knees.”
His motivation, at the time, was his incredible drive to be the best. His mental toughness led to a super human work ethic.
Did Tiger’s grinding cost him his health and prevent him from breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record for Major Championship wins?
Where did he learn to grind?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that his father and mentor, a former infantry officer, had something to do with it.
Mentors can have a tremendous impact in our lives. Fortunately for me, I’ve had quite a few.
When my daughter started playing basketball her coach was Jay Rich. He asked me to be his assistant and I’m so glad he did. Not only was he my coaching mentor, but ultimately he became my real estate mentor.
My time with him was invaluable. A former teacher, Jay had an amazing ability to take a subject and simplify it for his students. He is the best teacher I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve had a lot of great teachers. He has an ability to boil down a subject to it’s essence.
Truly, I could list dozens of lessons learned from him, but the greatest lesson I learned from Jay is basketball related, yet still applies to everyday life. During practice drills, he would encourage the girls, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
Later in life, I met my spiritual mentor.
Doug Feagles is a custom home builder. We met every Friday at 6:00AM for a little over 10 years and still meet periodically 5 years later. Our goal? Coffee, bible, and growth.
One of the most compelling lessons I learned was found in the New Testament. James 4:13, 14. “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
This passage reminded us that plans are futile. That God , in his wisdom, relieved me from the stress of plotting, planning, and controlling my future. Instead, it’s best to operate daily the way nature operates. Free and easy. Trusting God daily.
Finally, I had an amazing storytelling coach by the name of Ryan Fletcher.
He’s the single reason I became a writer, started a podcast, and wrote a book.
Like Doug and Jay, he’s one of the most talented human beings and best teachers I’ve ever met. Another man of principle.
A former football player and linebacker, he was intense. He didn’t have a lot of tolerance for incompetence and would call you out in a New York minute. It wasn’t personal, he just wanted all of his students to win. To be their best.
One of his guiding principles was to grind. To push yourself to beyond your comfort level. He calls it grit.
He’s not alone in this particular view point. Earlier this year I read Jocko Willik’s book, Discipline Equals Freedom. In that book he suggests to never take a day off from listing weights. To push yourself. To be mentally tough. Mind over body.
Although I agree with both Ryan and Jocko in general, I struggle with this concept because it conflicts with my previous mentors concept of being natural and moving in rhythm.
Who is right? Is it grind or is it flow?
While reading through John Little’s book, The Warrior Within, the Philosophies of Bruce Lee, I’ve come to understand this interesting dichotomy.
In the book he introduces Wu-Wei. Wu meaning “not”, Wei translated at “striving”.
An analogy used in the book is that of two trees and a snowstorm. One tree is an oak, tall strong and rigid. The other is a willow, long, and flexible.
As snow accumulates on the oak, the rigid branches break, and fall to the ground.
On the other hand, the willow branches bend, allowing the accumulating snow to fall as the branch springs back.
Should we be more like the oak or the willow?
My default for answering questions like this is simple. What does Jesus think?
In Matthew 11:30 Jesus proclaims–”My yoke is easy, my burden is light.”
Easy. Light. As in not striving. Not sweating. Not grinding.
To grind or not to grind, that is the question. I choose not to grind, but fully respect those who do.
In fairness to Tiger’s dad, you gotta believe that the greatest golfer in history would not have succeeded had it not been for his mental toughness and grind.
Fletcher and Jocko are massively successful grinders.
Still yet, I choose flow. Allowing for the rhythms of life and God to guide me. To live in complete peace, tranquility, and balance. All along preparing for the enemy and fully aware of the intellectual, physical, and spiritual battles sure to come.
A warrior, engaged in a fight, staying on balance, defending in flow, the opponents attack and redirecting the energy to my advantage.
Ultimately, our approach has to authentic to us. Shaped by our own personal beliefs and the mentors we choose to follow.