• Jeff Black

Grit & Momentum

I want to go over two important things in my life and leadership journey. They are momentum and grit. What stops most people dead in their tracks is losing, people will change careers over losing enough. Some just do not believe in themselves to build momentum to shatter the glass ceiling they live under. Others live entirely misaligned with their character that they can never get out of neutral. Eternal war, endlessly. Confidence is where I want to start to frame out it’s relevance to grit and momentum.


What are we confident in? What are we not satisfied with? These are questions we all find ourselves asking whether realize it or not. Confidence is like a bank account. Your thoughts and beliefs about yourself determine the balance of this account, and this account fluctuates daily. Too many people carry their guilt and shame around with them that are forever paralyzed. Flash-frozen in their past while their lives slowly circle the drain.


Confidence is directly tied to momentum. Think back to how life was super awesome for you. I bet you felt like nothing in the world could stop you. Then guess what? Life ended you for yourself. When momentum suddenly stops, your confidence becomes shaky. How you view yourself, and the dialogue you carry with yourself will decide the balance of this account. Keeping the account vibrant comes from building the habit of grit. But first, I want to go dispel something I believe wholeheartedly, and that is momentum is superior to motivation. I know I am a filthy unicorn for saying it, but take it from someone who is about to back up why this is the case.


Momentum is defined simply can be defined as a force. Think of good momentum as Luke Skywalker and bad momentum as Darth Vader. Luke is always cheerful and making progress. He is kicking ass and taking names. Then Darth Vader whips dat ass, and Luke sinks into depression only to meet Yoda. And what did Yoda do for Luke? He helped him build confidence in his Jedi skills again. This is the power of momentum at work. Leadership guru John Maxwell thinks so highly of momentum that he even made it a law of his in his leadership books.


This is why I believe momentum, to me, is more powerful than motivation. Why? Because motivation is fleeting. Do you think Skywalker was motivated to face Vader right after losing his hand to him? Nope, you can bet your ass he wasn’t motivated at all. In fact, he pouted like a kid about having to go to meet his destiny. But eventually, Yoda helped him build some confidence, and from conviction, momentum began to begin. Momentum trumps motivation. More often than not, you will have days you do not want to do shit. Adulting is not fun at all sometimes. This means on those days where life is bitch slapping, you will most definitely not feel like doing anything. I can tell you these days exist. This is just a fact.


Now it is time to begin relating the importance of these 2 together.


I love working out. I have been working out for over 26 years. 31 years if you count the 5 years of physical therapy I did before hitting the gym to wage against my brittle bone disease. I can tell you there are days I do not want to work out. I would rather masturbate with razor blades. But guess what? I am still working out. This is momentum working for you. Think of momentum has the big wave building that makes every surfer grin with anticipation for the experience. You love the feeling of anticipation, and that is what momentum delivers to you over and over daily as you grit your way through life towards your goals.


Nothing lasts forever, and sometimes momentum comes to a dead halt. Life just happens. And that is ok too. You just have to go to bed knowing tomorrow no matter what you are going to go to bed, circling a W for yourself. Eventually, over time you stack more W’s than L’s.


Most of us either love winning or hate losing. Each mindset is different, and I have yet to meet someone who is both. I am all in on the hate losing mindset. I fucking despise it actually. It started for me in physical therapy as I was learning to walk again after enduring multiple surgeries to my legs stemming from a skateboard accident at age eight. Monday through Friday, my mom took me physical therapy every day at 9am. I would do pool stuff one day and stretching along with resistance band work on the other days.


I remember as a kid dreading getting into the car to go. Some days those drives were punishingly long. I used to be so anxious by the time I would get in there that I just wanted to die. Dramatic? Yep. But it’s the truth.


Though the funny thing I began to notice is on the days I did not want to go often became colossal turning points for me in terms of confidence and momentum building. I would seem to progress more on the days I did not want to be there. Maybe it was my angsty self giving fuel to the fire? Who knows, but I realized at a young age that showing up each day matters more than on the days you feel like doing it.


The fact is some days you are just going to be in a thrash mood. If you want the things you see for yourself, then you do the work no matter what.


Momentum and grit are two things that I believe help build your confidence bank account. I have already covered momentum with you, but let me take a moment to cover grit. Or my perspective of grit that is.


Grit is defined as “courage and resolve; strength of character.” Know what builds grit? Your super hot bestie momentum. That’s who! Want to know how I know the difference intimately well between the two? Well, I am going to tell you through my eyes.


I was 10 years old when I found out the difference between the two. I had just endured a brutal surgery in the middle of being nine years old. I wore a bone stretching halo device to correct a 1-inch difference between my legs stemming from a skateboard accident and a couple of surgeries to repair them. I wore this device for 12 weeks before they realized I had taken a beating. I never tapped out.


Around week 8, they performed a radical turn and stretched on the leg. You can imagine how that went for me. Still the next day, I was in physical therapy getting treatments. I was dying in pain but again pushed forward. My heart wouldn’t let me do anything else but push forward.


After the machine was removed, they put me in a fancy leg brace. I was to wear it for 8 weeks while working on a range of motion, walking in the pool, and other fun activities daily in physical therapy. I remember seeing the doctor the morning the brace was to be removed and to go to physical therapy right after. The x-rays looked good, and the bone appeared healed. I was stoked. He was giving me permission to begin walking again outside of the pool. I crutched myself to the elevator full of sunshine, and up to the second floor, I went to see my PT guy.


We began our session as we usually did. Heat, some light stretching, and then exercises. At the end of the exercises before the harder, more painful stretching that finished every PT session, he took my crutches away and said, let’s see you walk. He took a chair and was about maybe 6 feet away from me. He had his arms out as if he was my dad asking for a hug. I stood up. It was the first time I had ever put weight on my left leg up to this point. I stood. I remember feeling so proud. I felt so accomplished. Then I took my first step. Snap. The leg broke. A few days later, I would be under the knife again to repair the bone. They put a plate over it to hold the weak bone together. Needless to say, I had to completely start back over. To say I was shattered is an understatement. That experience broke me.


I took that experience, and somewhere in the abyss that was my heart, I stumbled upon anger towards my bone disease beating me. I decided to say fuck you to osteogenesis imperfecta and never looked back. Today I am competing for my pro card in bodybuilding. That tells you who won that fight.


How I won that fight was found in grit. I could not stop thinking about walking again. I was fixated on it. Grit and momentum became my gas, and anger was the spark. Courage is what I needed to work with the law of momentum. I absolutely refused to let osteogenesis imperfecta beat me.


I loved video games because that is all I could do. I can look back now and see how, when I was in physical therapy, I was framing it as a game. I loved Zelda growing up and Final Fantasy. Guess what sometimes happens in those games? You die. My situation was not as drastic, but once my leg broke with my first step that there was going to be some this sucks shit moments. I wrapped my head around that when I had to take the first step after this surgery to fix the last first step I took.


The faster you can make friends with the valleys, the more you enjoy the peaks. I can still tell you how happy and proud I was on the last day of physical therapy. I was set to be walking into high school in a few days. That was the goal I set when I was back at age 10 for myself. To step back into school again one day. Little did I know it would be a high school before I realized the achievement of such what seemed like a simple goal at the time.


But nonetheless, I was beyond proud of myself for pulling it off because I had my doctor say it wouldn’t happen again. Walking without some sort of aide ever again seemed highly unlikely. I still shoot him the bird in my mind at the end of my workouts.


This is where grit meets momentum. If you make a habit of grit, then when you have momentum in your favor, you can fuck some shit up and completely change your trajectory. Use these two wisely to your advantage in your wheelhouse of leadership.

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