“Harden the fuck up.”
That’s what I kept thinking to myself as the freezing rain poured onto my Carhartt.
I was shaking.
And I could barely keep my teeth from chattering.
Water had soaked through my gloves and beanie a long time ago. The Carhartt was doing a decent enough job keeping my torso dry.
But nothing helped the bone-chilling cold…
I sat on my hands to warm them up, and immediately felt the water absorb into my work pants. My body heat didn’t restore the sensation to my fingers, but it kept them functional enough to work the forklift.
I jumped on the forklift any chance I got because it meant a small break from physically lifting the lumber myself.
I was coming up on the tail end of five weeks of a necessary hell…
You’ll go through these periods in life where you simply have to buckle down and put in the necessary work to get shit done. I’m talking grit.
18-hour days, 5 days a week, for 5 weeks straight… plus a few hours on Saturdays too.
Sundays I would crash.
I did what I had to do to set myself up for where I am now.
I was working two jobs and doing everything I could to create a reliable source of income that depended entirely on how much I was willing to put in. I was building up my clientele. But it came with a cost.
At the end of these five weeks, I couldn’t think…
I constantly made mistakes.
I cut twenty pieces of trim to the wrong length, and loaded it onto a truck before the customer realized it was wrong.
He told me the correct length again, I cut twenty more pieces of trim to the SAME LENGTH AS THE FIRST TIME, and loaded it onto his truck…
This man looked at me like I was retarded, and explained the proper length for a third time.
I stood there dumbfounded for a moment. I had no clue how I had screwed that up TWICE.
I wasn’t stupid, I was sleep deprived.
I apologized and explained I hadn’t had any sleep as I was taking the trim back off the truck for a second time.
He stopped me and said not to worry about it… This man understood this type of work.
He told me he would get his men to patch a few extra places and use the cuts I had already given him.
This was one of those moments where everything hits you at once.
I thanked him for accepting my screw-up, and I finally realized I had to cut back on my hours to let my body recover. You can only work yourself into the ground for so long…
“I’m making mistakes. I can’t be making making mistakes.”
I told my foreman I needed to shift my schedule to a day on, a day off, whenever he could work out someone to fill in for my shifts.
He understood why. He needed me sharp.
You can’t be handling tens of thousands of dollars worth of product and be sleep-deprived.
You can get someone killed. Not to mention the loss of inventory, time, and money.
It wasn’t easy pushing through those weeks of hell and exhaustion.
But I did what was necessary and that’s all that matters.
Manual Labor Jobs Build Grit & Character
Most people don’t understand what “hustle” means.
They post bullshit on Instagram with #hustlelife and fake photos of them “grinding.”
Here’s what a day in the life looked like when I was establishing my foundation. This is real work.
I would wake up at 5:30 AM.
That gave me thirty minutes to stumble into the bathroom, put on my work clothes, and make it out of the house.
It was still dark outside and most of Seattle was asleep.
Every single morning, I’d blast my music in the Jeep and enjoy the sunrise on the drive. It was the Golden Hour after all, and I was going to enjoy it no matter how much the next 18 hours were going to suck.
I’d make it to work by 6:30 AM.
I spent the next six and half hours at the lumber yard.
I loaded trucks with all different types of construction materials.
From 24-foot beams, to sheets of plywood, to bags of concrete, to your typical 2 by 4s.
More often than not, I’d be out in the freezing rain and cold.
Coffee was essential.
The hot cups helped to warm your fingers and the caffeine kept you pushing through fatigue day after day.
All of the yard guys were tough guys.
No, not “tough guys” but tough guys.
Guys who weren’t going to cry over some bullshit. Guys who understood pain and could work through it. Guys who realized our day would be a little easier if we worked together.
We had each others backs, for the most part.
Sure, you’ll have the occasional slacker, but you’ll typically find hardworking, determined people in these types of jobs.
They understand hardship, and doing what is necessary.
They understand what it means to be human.
Sheltered liberals in ivory towers do not.
When you work manual labor jobs, you get a glimpse into what a vast majority of the world lives with on a daily basis.
Struggle. Pain. Camaraderie.
I spent my mornings working alongside some solid men.
And then the gears would shift for the evenings…
I’d leave the lumber yard at 1 PM, and from there my days became unpredictable.
I was committed to being available for clients between 2 and 11 PM.
If I had someone at 2, I’d rush to the gym so I could take a shower, change, and be ready to train in time.
On the days where I had a slight gap in my schedule, I did everything I could to get some sleep.
It was a waste of time to drive home and then drive back to the gym, so I’d pull the Jeep under a tree and lay the driver’s seat back.
I’d sleep right there in my work clothes and Carhartt.
My alarm would go off an hour or two later, and then I’d head into the gym for my first client.
Those were my “good days.”
Once I got to the gym, I always went through my routine.
This was my hard reboot, right in the middle of the day… Without this routine, I don’t think I would’ve made it as long as I did.
I needed to shake off one job and build my energy for the next.
I’d go into the private bathroom and turn the hot water on in the shower.
I’d put some music on my phone, usually Above & Beyond Group Therapy, and then I’d look at myself in the mirror…
It was game time.
It wasn’t time for more “work.” It was time to make some more money.
I’d get undressed and step into the shower.
Some days I would just squat down under the hot water and collect myself for a moment. This was the only break I would have for the rest of the night.
I used it wisely.
After a shower and a Red Bull, I was ready to go.
I spent every night training clients or following up with leads.
I didn’t leave the gym until 10 or 11 PM, depending on when I had my last client.
And then I had the thirty minute drive back home…
And you guessed it, I’d blast some more music and enjoy the city lights under the stars.
To say that I was exhausted at the end of the day is an understatement.
My entire day was spent lifting heavy objects or showing clients exercises. I walked over twelve miles PER DAY.
Every night when I got home, it took everything I had not to crash right away.
My woman always had dinner ready for me, and I’d stay up with her until I couldn’t anymore.
My mind was drained. Every muscle on my body ached. A full-body fatigue had set in months prior and never gone away.
I had to roll out my feet with a lacrosse ball every single night if I wanted to be able to walk the following morning.
Looking back, the amount of physical activity was insane.
I don’t know many people who have the willpower to see something like that through.
And I’m glad I did.
Those months and hell weeks set me up for where I am now… running my own business and building a legacy.
It just took a little grit to get here.
I’ve loaded hundreds of thousands of pounds of materials onto trucks in the freezing rain, by hand, for hours on end.
One of the yard guys called these “character building calls.”
And he was absolutely right.
Working a manual labor job is a requirement for every man.
You need to see what you’re capable of, and these sanitized office environments will never let you experience that.
This is the type of mentality I’m talking about…
Demons & Destiny