(ThyBlackMan.com) Over the years, the term “grindset” has risen to express the peak mentality necessary to remain focused on a goal. While it can often be attributed to work, exercise and business are other topics where “grindset” and a push towards embracing hard work can be attributed.
Working Twice as Hard
The thing is that the whole hard work thing has always come with an asterisk next to it. While there have always been fables and folklore that pushed hard work but those were typically applied to every day like in fables and great deeds or dastardly misdeeds in folklore.
Hard work became a popularized concept with Horatio Alger Jr’s boys books of the late 19th century. These books usually followed a rags-to-riches storyline seated on the main character grinding and working hard until he makes it.
Never mind that his stories also involved elements such as fortunate opportunities, helpful people, positive encounters, restraint/suffering, and kind, rewarding individuals. There were other things that factored into the titular Ragged Dick’s rise to the middle class in addition to his work ethic in Alger’s blueprint novel for the genre.
The novels became hits with storylines of down bad boys working hard as adults while remaining upstanding, honest members of society. One thing pulled or corrupted from these novels is that “hard work pay off”. Nothing to define “hard work” or the degree necessary. It’s just as much as it takes. If hard work isn’t paying off, you’re not working hard enough—keep grinding.
Hard work became a common theme among Black families as opportunities opened up while still having racial barriers in the way. “Working twice as hard to earn half as much” is still a common complaint. It’s something instilled in Black men at an early age. We hear it in music, TV shows, read it, engage in activities where hard work and dedication are necessary, and even see it play out in cartoons we watched as boys.
To get anywhere and do anything, we have to really grind. Want to go on a vacation? Gotta grind out those hours. Want to travel? Gotta grind out those hours. Need to improve yourself to date? Gotta grind out those hours in multiple ways.
Then you have to factor in who “hard work pays off” targets: primarily poor, lower-income bracket folks. If you work hard and pull yourself up by your boot straps, you—yes you—can be successful as well. There’s success as the person who has achieved their success displays and there’s what you define as success in your life.
Success is different by the person as they all achieved their success —if they’ve achieved it in either form—at different speeds, during different periods, in different ways, in different fields, with those fields in different shapes.
Musicians Drake and Future are both successful in hip-hop but not to the same degree and they didn’t take the exact same paths to superstardom.
As I’ve Said Before: “Hard Work is for You”
Still, “hard work” and grinding is pushed haphazardly. Even today when people are taking a more measured approach to hard work. That “hard work will pay off” has been used by employers in menial labor to get more out of their workers. All it takes is couching that with “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.”
The thing hard work is purely for you and not necessarily for working under someone. Sure, other elements such as networking and promoting yourself and whatever you’re doing come into play but that’s typically mixed in with hard work depending on what you’re doing. If you’re looking to start a business, a YouTube channel, a podcast, or stream—whatever—you’ll need hard work and that work is for your sh**.
You’re not killing yourself cracking rocks for Mr. Slate or doing paperwork in the cubicle Negro role—a throwback from comedian and social commentator Elon James White. This is your project, your effort should be spent on what you’re doing.
The same goes for the young brothers in college whether you’re going into the arts, academia, athletics, journalism, or picking up a trade. Apply yourself with what you can give. That’s the route you took and you’re apparently doing something you feel can better your future or your life and those around you.
Sure, it might lead you to a position where you’ll have to work hard and learn to work smarter but it’s your show at that stage. In this case, you’re probably building to something or trying to get somewhere and it’s necessary work.
Starting a family, running for office, put your effort in whatever the endeavor is if you can see something for yourself there. It’s your hard work! You should benefit greatly from it most of the time.
Black Men: Don’t Die from Hard Work
However, it’s important to say don’t work yourself to death even if it’s for your sh**. Make time for yourself to rest, decompress, and reset so that you don’t burn out and can keep working at this stuff if hard work is the route you’re taking. In Japan, the term “karoshi” is attributed to work-related death basically from stress, overwork, and just not taking care of oneself while working.
Just remember this, guys: many Black men have stories of family members who basically worked themselves to death. Many of those relative didn’t crack the middle class. Many lived modest lives and a few probably lived worse but they had they worked in the same field for decades and worked the same job when they died.
Or they managed to retire but their bodies are banged up from working and enjoying life at that time as opposed to when you’re able to really be involved isn’t it either. A sad reality is that sometimes hard work doesn’t pay off. Taking care of yourself while working hard is definitely hard work itself as is knowing what to apply yourself to in an effort to avoid burnout.
For those of us in the grindset, what are you working towards and how are you looking after yourself? Let us know in the comments, who knows: your advice and your method might work for someone else on the same path. If you believe hard work doesn’t pay off at all or it only pays off for yourself, share what brought you to this conclusion.
Staff Writer; James Swift, Jr.
Gaming since 1989 and headbanging since 1999, James enjoys comics, RPGs, wrestling, and all things old school and retro. Check out his writing here AfroGamers and The Black Rock and Heavy Metal. You can also find him on Twitter at; metalswift and soon on Kick where he will stream mobile titles.
One can also contact this brother at; [email protected].