I’m far from a sports fan, yet I love sports analogies.
One of the terms I like to use is “grinder,” which comes from Canada’s great game and passion, hockey.
The NHL fans reading this already know what a grinder is. When discussing their favourite players, they will often say things like “He doesn’t score many goals, but boy can he grind.”
I offer this non-fan’s definition: A grinder is a player characterized by his determination, not his talent.
Grinders can’t be counted on to score a lot. They don’t put the puck in the net every night, but they do put in a lot of ice time because they are the most eager to compete of anyone on the team.
Or, to borrow some more sports cliches: Grinders show up. They come to play.
Oh, and even though I’m using the masculine in this piece, everything I say here applies to female grinders, too.
Grinders are not finesse players. They prove Charles Bukowski’s maxim that endurance is more important than truth as day in, day out, game by game, all season long, they grind the other teams down with their relentless effort.
In other words, grinders are tough SOBs. They are the gutsy heart and soul of many a winning team.
Wayne Gretzky? Not a grinder. Gretzky was a one in a billion player, a freak of nature put on this planet to score goals.
Yet Gretzky couldn’t have had such a successful career without all the faceless, nameless footsoldiers who surrounded him and whom sports history has forgotten. Grinders don’t get the glory.
Now comes the moral of the analogy.
Just as being a grinder in hockey counts for a lot, being a grinder in life means something, too.
You and I are everyday people. We aren’t superstars, or even stars, like Gretzky. But we show up every day to do our jobs and face the obstacles life has put in our path. We gut it out. We grind.
It was director Woody Allen who famously said that 80% of success in life is just showing up. Allen knows nothing about sports, but what the neurotic filmmaker was talking about – in his own weird way — is being a grinder.
Just showing up to face the day, every day, is an accomplishment. When things get tough, getting out of bed every morning can be a kind of victory.
The sun doesn’t shine every day. But don’t you want to be around when one of life’s sweet moments arrives? I know it’s tough to wait for the rough patches to pass — believe me, I know from first-hand experience.
Some days, I would rather just curl up on the couch under a blanket and watch bad television. I get it.
Grinders are known for their inner strength (the source of that inner strength is a column for another time). I don’t know a thing about you, but I know you are tougher than you think.
Only a select few NHLers ever win a Stanley Cup. The trophy has only a few thousand names on it – a handful, compared to all the players who have toiled in the NHL over the decades.
Whatever league you play in, whatever game you play, whatever life throws at you, it’s not going to be an easy ride all the time.
So consider the virtues of being a grinder.
I believe, when you get to the other side of your troubles, you will be glad that you did.