Have you ever worked on a sandy surface in the summer sun? If you do, you’ll know that it’s one of the hottest places you can be in the summertime. That was my place today before noon, on a day full of outdoor work with temperatures reaching the 90s and typically high humidity.
Am I complaining? No. I certainly appreciate the air conditioning and water more after working in heat like that, but I’m no longer crushed by it. I actually kind of like it, especially when I’m working with other guys.
In my mind, I’m playing a game of toughness with them: how much more can I take without folding or complaining? How much longer can I keep up my energy and spirits? How much more cheerful can I be in the face of how much bigger a challenge, disappointment, or dread? How much more of a man can I be? Who will crack first?
This competitive mindset flips my attitude on its head, from one that might bemoan the sweat, the dirt, and the sun to one that embraces those things and looks forward to them with a masochistic grin. In this I think I see some of what keeps professional athletes, soldiers, and other blue collar workers running even through suffering: we men love our competition.
If you’d like to stop dreading the hardest parts of work, you should start playing the game, too.