Embrace the Daily Grind: That's Where the Joy Is
By Colette A. Harris
Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.
It’s not work if you love it.
There are countless cliché quotes to choose from about loving the work you do, but I think Steve Jobs said it best:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
His thoughts tap into what it means to be truly satisfied with the time and energy we spend working towards our goals on a daily basis. Notice, he didn’t say the only way to be truly satisfied is if you’re doing what you believe is great work….
…and you get a scholarship to your dream school
…and you win an Olympic medal
…and you get a multi-million dollar endorsement deal
…and travel the world making guest appearances because you’re a famous sports star
In other words, results and worldly successes are awesome in the short term, but don’t fulfill us for extended periods of time. Knowing that you’re getting up every day and running the race that you believe you’re meant to run – and doing so to the best of your ability – is how we develop a sense of deep satisfaction and fulfillment. And, ironically, when we focus on the work itself, it leads to more success both on and off the field.
In today’s sports world, it’s easy to focus only on external measures of success. There’s no doubt that striving to make an Olympic team or win a championship are huge motivators and major components of what drives athletes to succeed; but if you’re only willing to go through the daily grind of intense training and the inevitable ups and downs of competitive sports to win a medal, it’s going to be hard to sustain the level of intensity and commitment you need to make it to the top. The external goal is great to have, but it’s hard to reach if you don’t love the work that it takes to get you there.
To me, the athletes who retired from their sport fulfilled are the ones who focused on loving the work that comes with being an athlete. They loved the challenge of learning a new skill, the hardest days or training, and focused on giving their all to their sport every single day. Sometimes, these athletes are world champions and Olympic medalists, but sometimes they aren’t. What makes them so special isn’t where they ranked in the world standings. It’s that they’re competing for themselves and against themselves, no one else. If they never won a competition or a race, they’d be okay with it because they know the sports journey is never really about the medals anyway, but about putting the work in to perform their very best when it counts.
It’s important to check-in with yourself from time to time about why you’re involved with your sport. What are you doing it for? Are you doing it only for the prizes and praise it brings you? Or are you participating because you love the sport and would put in the work every day, even if you never achieve what others consider “success?”
Dream big and aim high, but never forget what it feels like to love the work – the good, the bad, and the ugly of the daily grind on the ice, in the gym, or on the field.