by: Colby Harris (Grit University intern - 2nd summer)
When the alarm clock sounds, you are given a choice. You must choose to be stronger mentally, physically, and emotionally - a choice to be better than you were the day before - or you can choose to snooze the alarm and forget all the dreams and obligations you have. There is a very short time frame that you can make that decision. You can snuggle up in your warm, comfy bed, or you can go flip on that ice cold shower and kick start your day. The human mind is most vulnerable right after you wake up. It’s easy to go back to bed, it’s easy to say “not today”, it's easy to skip the gym, but also it’s easy to fall into bad habits. Without giving yourself challenges to face, you will never fully understand yourself. Pulling yourself up and out of bed while it is still dark outside is the hardest part of the entire day. Some may find a spark of motivation and try to push themselves to get right up and out of bed and think it is easy to do. It may be easy your first day, or your first week, but what happens when you lose that motivation? How about attacking the day for a month straight? Two months? A full year? The discipline you develop through long term practice prepares you for the race. Although it does not get easier with time, you must understand that the marathon will continue with or without you. The marathon I am talking about is not a 26.2 mile footrace, the marathon I speak of is life itself.
Following the Covid pandemic, in May of 2020 I started my first 10 week tenure at Grit University as one of two pioneer interns living at Grit Headquarters. At that time I knew it was time for me to turn a page in my life. It was my time to lock in and develop myself. I was solely focused on being like a sponge and just absorbing every small detail in my day to day and how to learn from any given situation. For me, joining Grit U was everything I ever could have dreamed of. I was getting real life experience in sales, hospitality, real estate, finance, and business management all at the same time. From the 5:30am wake ups to reading and journaling each day, I wasn't just going through the motions, I was giving it my all to become the best version of myself possible. During summer 2020, as I mentioned I was one of two interns. That truly brought out the best of me and my natural competitive tendencies. All summer long if I ever felt tired, or unwilling to give 100%, I remembered I had to continue to push if I wanted to be the best. Throughout my whole life I had found motivation solely in just wanting to exceed others accomplishments with my own. As bad as it may sound, that is just simply the truth. It may have been because I knew I would put in the work to back up my aspirations, or because I was just the cocky teenager with nothing to lose. Competing with others was my fuel.
Fast forward to 2021, I was invited back as a 2nd year intern but things would look a little different this year. Around February I found out I would be a lone intern for summer 2021. Frankly, at first I was thrilled about the news. I would have Grit HQ to myself, I would be the all star of Grit Camp, and I would receive a 1 on 1 mentorship with grit mastermind, Brian Harbin. Everything seemed to be falling into place. During my time away from Grit U from Fall 2020 to Spring 2021, I had been practicing the habits I started that previous summer. I was still giving it my all in the gym as well as reading and journaling. Meditating had almost become a daily practice. While away I also was working at a golf club before starting a small moving and assembly business. I knew that come summer 2021, I was going to be absolutely dialed and nothing was going to stop me from becoming a true trailblazer of my generation. Outside of camp days and time spent with Brian, or dinner at the Harbin madhouse, I would be the only intern living alone at HQ. I would not be just living alone, but working out alone, advertising alone, eating most meals alone and more, all alone.
During preparation for summer 2021, after I thought I had considered all the pros and cons of living and working alone as a solo intern, one big problem that I had not considered presented itself- I would have to do the work of two interns. I quickly realized everything would be twice as hard because not only would I have to do the physical work of two people, but I couldn't get the mental edge from competition that I always relied on. This is what would make everything twice as hard. I would no longer look over to see the other intern grinding in the gym, or see him bringing good energy to camp, or going the extra mile when I was ready to give up. For me, this meant facing up against myself and realizing each day will be Me vs Me. No outside distractions or competition, just tunnel vision on winning against my own negative thinking. This is where real change occurs, where long term change occurs, where earth shattering achievements occur. At this point I recognized, it was time to change the narrative and acknowledge I am my one and only competition and that's all I can concern myself with. This is where the marathon truly begins.
I knew it would be a competition with my own mind, but per usual, I don't play to lose. I knew I could not only tackle the tasks at hand, but thrive in the challenge. The first week of camp, I worked five straight 12 hour days. The second week of camp, I did the same thing. I was juiced up to the point where I could not sleep at night. For once I didn't have to sleep to be in a dream, I felt I was already living one. By week three I was still pushing my limits but now only doing about a 10 hour day so I could get the extra sleep I was noticeably lacking. That brings me to week 4, roughly 25 nights alone at HQ, over a 100 campers hosted thus far, and over $2,500 in sponsorships sold, I was slaying it. This is when I began to experience a breakdown. No, I do not mean a teenager lying on the ground screaming and crying. I mean a literal breakdown of my unstoppable mentality and almost starting to believe that I could not do it. I had done everything I could day in day out to better myself yet I felt no reward. Times like this showcase what the marathon is all about.
My 19th birthday would fall on Tuesday, July 6th, a camp day. This would be my third straight birthday spent working. I do not say that as a bad thing, but I do think it should be noted. Beginning of week 5 for camp, I was now officially exhausted. I feel as if my brain is not working properly, as if I was moving backwards in my mental progression. For the first time all summer, I started to ask myself how I would finish out. I got through July 4th and was back at camp bright eyed and bushy tailed by 7:45am on July 5th for a fresh start to our 5th week of camp. I was now officially exhausted. I feel as if my brain is not working properly, as if I was moving backwards in my mental progression. For the first time all summer, I started to ask myself how I would finish out. This is when I was at an all time low for the summer. At this point I had put in some serious mental and physical work into Grit Camp and my day to day schedule while I am here. I was basically non stop for the entire month of June. I was absolutely beat. I was feeling completely broken and exhausted, but I did in fact make it to my birthday the following day. That day, I took some time to stop and smell the roses. At camp, we had cupcakes in my honor and all the kids had signed a card for me. As I sat at my birthday dinner that evening, I realized yet again that this was only the beginning. The trials and tribulations of my life will only lead to wisdom and success, if I allow it. Failure only leads to success if you keep pushing and I had to recognize that I only lose if I give up. I cannot loathe in the darkness and exhaustion, but rise up in it and say to myself I must keep pushing. To look around on my birthday and be surrounded by people who love me, admire me, and most of all support me, is absolutely unbeatable fuel to my fire. After spending so much time facing myself and taking that time alone as time to continuously push myself and better myself, I had lost touch with the bigger picture. This is where you find your flow state, you will not finish the marathon without it.
The marathon is a long yet fun, treacherous yet beautiful, grueling yet loving journey that will involve one thing for sure: YOU. You and I are not running together, we are on different races with different start lines and different finish lines. I cannot run your race and you cannot run mine. It is a solo race and your only competitor is who you could've been had you truly given it your absolute best! To complete the marathon is to always continue pushing forward. To realize the only person that can change your life, is YOU. The marathon is about understanding that without continuously being broken down, you cannot grow! When you are broken down, surround yourself with positive people that help bring you back to your flow state. If you thought mile 3 or 4 was hard, what do you think mile 25 will be like? This has been so evident in my 2021 Grit University experience. I started to ponder the question of, if I worked and pushed this hard all the time, what could I accomplish? The answer is anything! The sky's the limit and I know that because I understand the work I have put in behind the scenes. The work no one sees or hears about, work I don't get paid for in monetary terms but in return receive confidence and tenacity to push through any obstacle. As I previously mentioned, the marathon continues with or without you. Time will pass and yesterday will be gone forever, tomorrow gone with it very soon. I will run my marathon and I will give it everything I have in me. There is no turning back now, the race has begun therefore I can only lose if I give up. Run the marathon with everything you have and learn along the way, I can guarantee you win.
Pictured below: Colby with his mom and 3 siblings; Colby at Grit Camp; Colby being featured on Matthew McConaughey's instagram story promoting 'Grit'