by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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Yet another great quote from Tim Grover, and man does this one hitting close to home.  I know, I have lived it, over and over.

My plans to be a collegiate wrestler ended quickly in the beginning of my freshman year of high school.  I have shared this story in other blogs, so I will skip over much of the details of my neck injury.  But here is the salient point for this blog, suffering.  I am fairly certain I can make this statement and not have too many try to refute it: Wrestling is the hard sport there is.  Yes, I know that football is very physically demanding, hitting a baseball is probably the most difficult single skill, but in totality, wrestlers suffer more and more often than anyone else.  Allow me to expand…

I had been training with my Dad for several years prior to high school, and the summer before school started my Dad and I went to one of the wrestling practices at high school that I was going to attend.  He asked if I could join the practices, to get a head start on the training before school even started.  The coach agreed, and instantly I was thrown into a world that I could barely wrap my head around.  I was surrounded by high level wrestlers, many current state champs looking to repeat, others hungry for their first.  The discipline was unmatched to anything I had ever been exposed to before.  I had no idea how I would fit into this group, let alone compete for a spot.  The only open spot on the team was at 98 pounds, so I quickly learned my answer.  Lose the weight and win to get on the team.  I was a small kid entering high school, weighing a whopping 112 pounds, and I had no idea how I was going to lose 14 pounds to make weight.

I trained throughout the summer and improved dramatically in a short time.  I was a sponge, soaking up everything I could.  When I wasn’t at practice, I was thinking about moves, rehearsing them in my head and on the living room floor.  When school started, I couldn’t wait to get through class and get to the wrestling room.  It was my sanctuary; the heat, the mixed aromas of sweat and bleach pervading the room whose floor was covered from corner to corner with the wrestling mats.  It was a proving ground, a place to belong, a ticket to the coveted “inner circle” of the high school world.  Those were the good parts.  The rest was Hell.

The training on a daily basis was brutal.  The physical exertion was incredible, and people throwing up during a regular practice session was common.  I had 14 pounds to shed off of my already skinny frame in order to make weight the day of the competition for a team spot.  For three weeks prior I began to skip meals, walking around in summertime in a hooded sweatshirt and sweats, dripping sweat everywhere I went.  I sat in class sweating, spitting into a cup, slowly expelling as much water as I could from my system, incrementally losing weight in ounces instead of pounds at a time.  THEN I would go to practice, work with the same intensity as always, and stay after to put on a sauna suit and roll myself up in the wrestling mat to sweat some more.  I was miserable, starving, and dangerously dehydrated for close to a month.  My stomach growled so loudly that the kids in class would laugh aloud at me.  On the fateful day of the team competition, my wrestling career ended 20 seconds into the match.

But here is the thing, I loved it.  I was miserable and yet I felt so alive and so connected to the others that were suffering around me.  It was a brotherhood, and we were a team.  I belonged.  And I was willing to trade the days and month of suffering for the few shining moments under the lights.  I was willing to walk through Hell to have a few moments in Paradise.  And people wonder why it is so hard to make me quit…

About six months later, after healing from my neck injury and trying to find my place in a different circle, I discovered the sport of racquetball.  My wrestling background, albeit brief, was a tremendous help to my racquetball career.  In fact, everything in my life that I have done can be said to have benefitted from this short but impactful experience.  I knew from an early age that you have to endure to succeed.  Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and the hurdles that life throws down in your way are meant to weed out those who cannot endure.  I believe it is your obligation to be YOUR best, regardless of where that ranks you among others chasing the same thing.  It didn’t matter that I never made it to number 1 on the Pro Tour, I maximized my own potential, and that ultimately was the goal all along.  The process, the journey itself yielded the greatest result it could have: the best version of me.  So far, anyway.  I, like everyone else, am a work in progress.

So my question for you is this: What are you willing to endure?  The higher your pain tolerance, the farther you can go.  What are you willing to walk through Hell for?  We all want to be successful, but how many of us are actually willing to pay the price?

I downplay my current working situation to most people, as I know I have an amazing set up for myself.  They wouldn’t understand what I have endured to get here, and I do not like the idea of someone hearing what my work schedule is like and assuming that I am living a life of privilege.  I earned this, I walked through Hell to get to this paradise.  In the first three years of the company’s existence I was berated and browbeaten in every Manager meeting, and it started the same way every time: Where are the sales?  Why is it taking so long to close deals?  In year three, all of the management team took a 50% pay cut to keep the company alive.  We were told it would be 3 months, it lasted eighteen.  I thought many times about quitting.  But I didn’t.  I kept walking, and I made it out the other side.  Now, most days anyway, I make full time money for part time work.  People reach out to me to do business with our company.  I have arrived in Paradise, but I paid a lofty price to get here.

So again, what are you willing to suffer for?  And how much are you willing to suffer?  Lots of people want to start their own business, but how many are willing to grind 80 hours a week for three or four years before ever taking a paycheck, just to have a shot at success?  Are you willing to miss time with friends and family?  Your own kids?  It takes a toll, a very high toll indeed, but if you have the fortitude to keep walking, you just may get there.  You should assume for a long time that you will suffer and toil far more than you will enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Is five percent of the time in Paradise worth 95% struggle, discomfort and uncertainty?  Only you can answer that question and you may not know until you get there.  Trust the process and keep walking, as I believe it is well worth it.

I wish you luck in your endeavors.

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