Our Parents Called “Grinding” Work


I’m tired of the word, “Grinding.” I’m actually sick and tired of it.

  • Up at 5am to “grind” – a.k.a. workout.
  • Getting on the train at 6:30am to “grind” – a.k.a. go to work.
  • Monday. Rise and grind – a.k.a. go to work.
  • Sales guys making calls to “grind” – a.k.a. how you’re compensated when you create opportunity.
  • Athletes are the worst. “Grinding” – a.k.a. I’m practicing to play a game kids play and get paid STUPID money, so I gotta “grind” to earn my $5 MILLION.

Shut up with the grind.

It’s not a grind. It may be sensationalized in today’s social world so someone can meaninglessly pat you on the back, but our parents didn’t call it that. Remember when your mom and dad weren’t cool, but then you realized just how much they did for you?

It was called work. WORK. To give your family a better life than the one laid out in front of them. That’s WORK!

Our parents weren’t looking for truly “empty social support” or comments on their multiple social media channels about the “struggle” (I hate that too by the way). They were busy supporting their kids or husband/wife. My mom didn’t call cleaning the house “grinding” for the weekend. Mom cleaned the damn house.

I truly hope I’m not turning into the old man yelling “get off my damn yard,” but I’m really tired of it and I’m worried for what it means for all of us growing up in a time where we’ve never seen so much abundance. I believe it is this abundance that leads many to label their work as a “grind” the moment adversity strikes because they’re never truly seen what a grind looks or feels like.

Let me tell you about a grind.

My dad. I admire the hell out of him for what I’m about to tell you.

My dad didn’t grow up with a lot (which is an overstatement). He started working real jobs when he was probably 10 or 11…because he had to. He went to college to become something better and someone to support a family. He become a teacher. He was one of the best teachers before he retired (past students will back me up on this or comment my post). But mind you, being a great teacher doesn’t earn you any extra money, and they aren’t handsomely compensated to begin with. Instead what do you do?

If you’re my dad, you teach school from 7:30am-3pm and then operate a drywall business until 9, 10, sometimes 11 o’clock at night. Every night. And by operate I mean work a real job for 40 hours a week, and then work another 5-6 days a week on top of that. Have you ever hung drywall?  It’s not exactly easy or clean manual labor.


He gave my mom, my sister and I all that we could ever ask for and more. I’ve never gone without. Opportunities piled on opportunities. He put in place a new trajectory for our lives based on where he’d been, the work he’d put in, and the future in front of us. I believe that trajectory leaves me where I am today and where I plan on going with my family. Changing the trajectory.

If you think I want one ounce of your sympathy, I don’t. Most importantly my dad won’t have it. I don’t think our story is unique. In fact, there are far greater stories involving hardship and triumph than the Keeney family. Look them up.

I’ll leave you with this. My dad is super-handy. It’s insanity to me to think about what he can fix or build. Conversely, I can’t fix a damn thing if my life depended on it. But, he did pass one thing along. He taught me how to work and showed me first hand the value of providing…not selfishly (which is my default emotion), but for the immediate benefit of others.

Grinding? I don’t think so. I’ll never call it grinding because that word didn’t exist in his vocabulary. It was just WORK.

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8 thoughts on “Our Parents Called “Grinding” Work

  1. Great one Zac. I could not agree more. My dad was/is the same way. He’s got the back, shoulder, and hand problems to prove it.

    Now we’re attempting to figure out how to pass it on to our kids in this “right now” electronic world. A little hard manual labor is good for the soul and teaches lessons to our youth.

    One thing is for sure. Our dads…wait – I won’t speak for you although you probably agree… My dad has set a “toughness” standard in our family. Not a competitive one, but a real life one. One filled with responsibility and doing what is expected, which is WORK. I just hope I can share half of what he has taught me with my kids.

    Thank you again Zac for the inspirational post. It must have been good because I literally never reply, comment, or post anything, but felt compelled to do so tonight.

    • Looks like I have to do better work Corey to get you to reply more often (I know the tribe sees tremendous value in your comment). Your comments add even more value to the post and YES, I think our dads are a great deal alike. Hopefully we can follow in their footsteps.

  2. Love this post! Spot on!

    • Knowing your story Juan, I can only imagine this struck a cord with you. I know you’re out there doing your very best every day to paint the same example for your son.

  3. Barb (Merrick) Barney

    I think this is one of my favorites of all your posts! So true! And as one who was there, your father is all you say ! And I would add, so was your mother. Day after day she made that long drive for years to partner with your father to give you and your sister the best life she could. And in her ” retirement” has selflessly cared for her parents daily.. Your parents would never say these truths about themselves..humility is an understatement.. You and your sister have a wonderful foundation and legacy to build on. Your DNA is strong! I am so impressed Zachary that you realize, appreciate, and acknowledge it! Keep up the good work!! Love your posts! Great wisdom for someone your age, I have learned from you!

  4. This is great and so refreshing! Didn’t know your dad hung drywall. Nate hung the drywall in our basement and it’s one thing he said he’d never do again! I know my parents created plenty of opportunities for us kids that they didn’t have themselves and working to provide opportunity for my children gives me purpose.

    • So happy you enjoyed it Sarah. I believe our parents saw it as their duty and responsibility to give us a better life. Your family (all of them)is a direct reflection of that. Sadly, I don’t know if this sentiment is shared with parents our age.

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