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I recently came across a West Point study that found grit to be more important to success than brains and brawn. As a lifelong entrepreneur, I couldn’t agree more; my dad used to tell me, “Not everyone has the stomach for it.” He was right. 

Education and intelligence help you solve a problem, but what matters most is how many problems you can solve. Grit is what keeps you going when the going gets tough, and when you’re trying to achieve success in anything … the going is CONTINUOUSLY TOUGH. You will be knocked to your knees until you quit, and the only way to keep going comes from your mental resilience. 

I go one step further and say that grit, the ability to continuously grind, and a heavy dose of gratitude make you unstoppable. 


So how do you build it? By doing hard shit. There are no shortcuts, you need to seek discomfort as much as possible. Grit is about turning the impossible into possible, and by continuing to push through invisible boundaries.  You’ll condition yourself to approach challenges as obstacles and not dead ends. 


Grinding is about doing hard work. Being called a grinder is the ultimate compliment to me. Grinders get shit done and don’t complain. If you’re striving for success, grinding through long hours is inevitable. If you really want it, you need to fall in love with the process of getting there. 

Change your frame of reference. When I had my pool business, I hired and then proceeded to fire many neighborhood kids because when the work got hard, they quit. Frustrated with my former employees, I hired two kids unafraid of hard work. They weren’t from the neighborhood. They were what I call “absolute machines,” and only wanted one thing from me: more hours. The idea of 9-5 to them was a joke because they were used to working 20-hour days. Their frame of reference was totally different. They were so great that when I finally decided to sell the business, I sold it to them. True story.


Something I often struggle with is living in the present moment and stopping to smell the roses. I often say, ”Who is going to fertilize and trim the roses if everyone is smelling them?” The truth, though, is that being grateful for what you have or built is healthy and needed in small doses. You need to credit yourself for the hard work you’ve put in, and that means the same for your employees. I may not always say it or show it, but I know who’s getting after it and who’s not. I’m grateful for the ones that do more than they’re asked for, and I try to reciprocate that generosity whenever I can.

I’m also grateful for my amazing family and the Spartan community. One of the best perks of the job is getting amazing gifts from the community, and I sincerely appreciate them all. 

If you don’t stop once in a while to appreciate what you have, then what are you working for in the end? The reality is we don’t get everything in life —that’s just how it is — so appreciate what you do have, because it’s never forever. 

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