Today is my birthday. I’m 44 now.

A year ago today, I had no idea how much The Grind would change my life, or help others navigate theirs.

There is something about The Grind that resonated with people. Of course, there’s the title. Many people believe that life is nothing more than a grind.

When I started writing this newsletter, the overall tone was about the hard things that startup founders go through. But eventually, it became the place where I talked about the hard things I was going through. I needed someplace to do that.

I didn’t know how much I would benefit from talking about what I was going through in public. It has, in more ways than I can explain, renewed my faith in us.

The community that’s developed around this transparent journal of experiences, reflections, and ideas taught me many life lessons by way of enduring support and amazing reciprocity.

Here are a few of those lessons that stand out for me today:

Do the deep work. The sense of purpose that you get from delivering work that others not only appreciate but genuinely benefit from is second to none. I would ride a high on most weeks this year from the feedback I got from the people who take the time to read The Grind and found peace or guidance from it and shared that with me.

This wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t go deep. People are drawn to the true essence of people. They know it when they see it or read it. They feel it. Of all the creative work we encounter in the world, what people feel is what sticks.

Judgment is a burden. A yearlong commitment to processing trauma at this year with you has led me to the conclusion that humans generally do the best they can, myself included. We are encouraged by society to judge others and ourselves harshly, but the weight of these judgments keeps us heavy in heart and mind.

We can put this burden down. We can choose to accept others for who they are without judgment, and we can achieve the progress we want for ourselves much easier when we aren’t continually tearing ourselves down.

Befriend your fear, strengthen your spirit. This, I’ve learned, IS the Grind. When you set out on an adventure, you will be tested. People will push you. Even threaten you. Out of excitement, you may miscalculate the difficulty of your challenge. Situations will arise for which there are no right answers. All of this is not just likely, it is inevitable.

If you are weak in spirit, these challenges can crush you. Your fear can overwhelm you. You must lean into it, and ask it what you must do to pass through it. The true hallmark of maturity is an acceptance that as long as you answer the call, the resistance will be around the corner. You must demonstrate discipline to be ready for those moments that you know will come.

I’ve learned much more of course, but those are the lessons that most occupy my heart right now.

There couldn’t be a better day to wrap up The Grind, for now.

Next Monday, The Grind gives way for a new newsletter. Same me, but I take a different posture in the new year.

Next year I own my experience and shift entirely into the role of guide.

See you then. I’m grateful for you.

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