I love grinders. I am not talking about sandwiches (sorry my Boston and Philly friends), nor the kitchen gadget for processing coffee or herbs into smaller pieces (although I am very fond of that appliance). I am talking about the grinder who succeeds through hard work, sweat, and determination rather than exceptional talent or skill. I have had the pleasure of playing with, as well coaching, this type of player. Grinders show up every day, they are eager to work, and they place team before self. They welcome each day as a chance to get better individually and as a team. I have also experienced grinders in business and seen them as students. Typically, my favorite hockey players are those 4th line hard-working, physical players who don’t quite possess the offensive ability of the game’s biggest stars. The late Tim Horton, (hockey player with a donut/coffee shop named after him) said, “Just remember. The hard way’s the easy way.” Translation being that when you work hard, the game comes easy.

Currently in this pandemic, I see grocery store employees as grinders. They are putting in tremendous hours, exposed to the public, and managing customer emotions during these difficult times. Rarely do you see an article praising them for their efforts and determination.

One of the top challenges as a parent, coach, and business leader is teaching the concept of tough times. Tough times scare those who have never been exposed to any degree of hardship, they think of tough times as hell. “If you’re going through hell, keep going” is a quote inaccurately attributed to Winston Churchill, although the sentiment accurately captures his demeanor. We could use more of Churchill’s spirit today. During the German air raids, although the drone of planes announced the oncoming bloodshed, where the bombs fell was just as arbitrary as this virus.

Nothing worthwhile gets handed to us. We need to earn it and, to some degree, deserve it based on our efforts. We have an opportunity to change our own attitudes and influence those around us that positive outcomes don’t just happen. They take work, hard work. Billy Graham observed that “Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.”

Let’s learn to accept and embrace these tough times as a positive. Gilbert Arland said, “What a man accomplishes in a day depends upon the way in which he approaches his tasks. When we accept tough jobs as a challenge…and wade into them with joy and enthusiasm…we get things done.” Resilient people do not “bounce back” from hard experiences; they find ways to fight through their misfortunes and gain wisdom. We need to fight like we are the 3rd Rhino trying to get aboard Noah’s Ark.

Many of us have likely heard the parable of the carrot, egg, and coffee bean facing adversity. When each of these are faced with the same adversity (boiling water for 20 minutes) they react differently. The carrots start off hard and stiff, but after adversity become soft, weaker, even mushy. Eggs go from being fragile items to having the same exterior but with a hardened inner core. The coffee beans are unique, adversity doesn’t change them, they change adversity, making the boiling water into coffee. The choice is ours. Will we be carrots that seem strong, but with pain and adversity become soft and lose strength? Will we be eggs that start with a fluid spirit and malleable heart, but become hardened and stiff under the heat all while looking the same on the outside? Or will we be coffee beans that change the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, coffee beans release their fragrance and flavor. If we are like the beans, when things are at their worst, we get better and change the situation around us.

In times of hardship we need to focus on the do’s (positives) not the ‘don’ts’ (negative). Hear again the comforting, strengthening message, from 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” In Romans 12:9-20, we are given a list on how to live a righteous life. As we look through the list, we find the “do’s” outweigh the “don’ts” by three to one. God’s Word is filled with amazing truths of how we should live. Too many who follow Christ look at these instructions as negative things we cannot do, rather than focusing on the positive and how they enhance our faith and lives. When my wife edits these blogs as a final step before I post them, she makes sure the messaging is from the positive viewpoint and not the negative. She also makes sure that I use the word ‘us’ and not ‘you’ and include myself as a recipient of the same insightful instruction.

God is here alongside us. Keep showing up ready to work and put the needs of others first. He will give us the strength to persevere when times get tough. At first glance, His way may look like the hard way but it is the easy way. If we find that we are going through hell, keep going, keep clinging to Truth and invite God to navigate for us – He has already made the trip.

I am blogging more frequently during this pandemic. Although it is challenging, we are equipped to bring life and flavor to our surroundings. In fact, several previous blog posts already touched on our enduring spirit. We can still be, figuratively, by someone’s side encouraging them along and helping those in need climb with more enthusiasm, See the Hill Smaller. We can still have the long view, operating from a future challenging vision, that stretches us, Green to Tee. Most importantly we need to live in our vision and not our circumstances, Live in the Vision; Trust the Process. Tough times are a process, the circumstances of this virus are temporary. We must trust the process and grind amidst the chaos, day by day.

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