Never focus on the obstacles that are in your way, but the achievements you have already made.
Everyday we face choices in our lives. Whether it be work, family or physically related, there is always a choice to be made. Sometimes some choices are easier to make than others. When we are faced with a difficult decision we tend to feel overwhelmed and stressed. This often creates shadows in our mental game, which leads to doubt and then fear. Our focus turns to a sea of back an fourth indecision and frustrations, leading us no where but to chase our tails.
Fear can rob us of our greatest hopes and our potential to succeed. Think of it this way, you are getting ready for a big competition or business meeting that if you succeed could change your life. “IF” is the big variable. When we use this word, we start to feel heaviness and the pressure of the event come upon us.
“IF” is a word that defines doubt. It starts us down the path of looking at things negatively. Then we introduce the first obstacle ‘worry’. Worry that we haven’t trained or researched enough. These thoughts start to affect our physical state and we introduce the second obstacle ‘Stress’ into our lives. Sleeping and eating may start to become affected and as a result work and training sessions feel like more of a chore than an opportunity to learn. Instead we look at that day’s results with a negative eye and start to think about what we have done wrong or ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’ the next time around.
This introduces the third obstacle ‘Doubt’. This one is the worst of all. It leads us to second guessing our decisions in the first place. Then presents us with more false choices. We start to make up excuses that take us further away from our goal choice. Once we allow doubt of any kind into our focus we lay the red carpet for the last obstacle ‘Fear’.
Fear can make us or break us. Often we do not attempt things out of fear. Fear of what if I can’t do it, will it hurt, how much will that cost me…etc and ultimately WILL I FAIL?… If I fail what will people think! How would I deal with disappointing others or myself?
What I offer is this,
People will respect you a hell of a lot more if you tried and failed, then if you made the choice not to try it at all. Do you want to be a sheep, baaing and blinking blankly with the rest of the herd, or do you want to be the shepherd? The shepherd is faced with the most choices and has the most important decisions to make, but the result ‘pass or fail’ is knowledge. You know the saying hindsight is 20/20. Well how can you have hindsight if you’ve never tried. IF you tried no matter the obstacles, you haven’t failed in the least, you have in fact gained information and knowledge on how to better prepare and proceed for your next endeavor.
Here’s a challenge I went through a few years ago. Sometimes looking back on challenges we faced helps put the new obstacles in our path into perspective. Or like Ali used to say “if they can make penicillin outta moldly bread, we can sure make something outta you”
Circa 2012: Two weeks ago, I competed in my second kettlebell competition, a national one at that. My first resulted in a fractured forearm. That was in Nov 2011 and it took until March 2012 for it to heal. That gave me a little under two months to pick up the kettlebell and start practicing again. Before I had injured my arm I had decided that at the next competition I was going to go up in weight. I wanted to go from using a 16kg bell to a 20kg. This presented a big challenge. I trained hard and was careful to properly structure my programming so as not injure myself. It was grueling at times, as I was traveling for work from city to city almost every 4 days, having to find a new places to train, eating and sleeping on buses, trains and planes. By the end of a full day of teaching and some times voicing as well, I would have find the motivation to train. Needless to say some training days results did not go well. I could have let all these obstacles frustrate me and stress me out. Somedays I felt banging my head against the wall would have been more beneficial to my practice then the numbers I put up. Instead of letting all the negative thoughts that were beginning to seep in defeat me from my goal, I started looking at each sessions gains. Somedays it was really hard to see any, but at least if the results were not good, I praised myself for showing up and practicing despite the odds.
Two weeks before the event I was demonstrating a skill with a light enough bells, that I had done flawlessly countless times before. But because I had been so exhausted from travel I bailed badly out of it at the end. It looked controlled to the students, they applauded my efforts and went to work on teaching each other the exercise. But I knew better, it was a dumb mistake and I could feel my shoulder throbbing with pain. Yup, I did it. Pulled my medial deltoid! Awesome. Well there goes the competition…maybe. Instead of giving up, I put efforts towards healing it as fast as I could. It was a minor strain and if I rested until the day before I had to step onto the platform, I knew my shoulder would be ok. However, I knew this meant that I would not be performing for any records or like the ‘beast’ everyone thinks I am. No pressure…
The day of the comp arrived and along with it, every stomach ailment you can think of. I was in knots. Ok, so I had a choice to make. I could choose not to compete and sit there cheering on my team mates, or I could compete and try my best. Two of my team mates had it rough that weekend too. We were organizing the event and needless to say there is always more to be done and stress was at an all time high. They were contemplating not competing at all. Something I could not blame them for as we had not really slept, eaten and had about 5 mins to warm-up before we took to the platforms. At the last moment another judge needed me to sub, write before my flight was up. My head was whirling. I could back out, I was stressed from organizing, not getting in all the training I wanted to prior and my team mates where thinking about jumping ship too.
I weighed the options in my head. Making a mental list of pros and cons. Ultimately what I kept coming back to is, “if I choose not to compete, I have lost nothing. Nothing will change.” Nothing will change! Even though I had only worked my butt off for a little over a month and half I was not about to let my hard work and effort be thrown away in vain. If I choose to compete, I have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain. I’ll know what to do for the next time. This will bring me closer to my goal of hitting the rank of master of sport with a 24kg bell. I looked at my peers and told them I understood their positions and would respect whatever decision they would make for themselves. I had made mine and was ready to accept the results of trying my ass off instead of sitting on it.
My flight was up. 3-2-1 Lift. Wait, wait! Put it the bells down false start, The clock jammed. Ok what’s next?! 10 minutes, 10 minutes of this! Blarg! That seems damn near impossible at this point. I’m exhausted.
Ok here we go again. Lift. First clean HEAVY. Second, third and fourth all just as enjoyably cumbersome. That was it! Enjoyably cumbersome! Change your thought at this point Sara! You are so lucky that you are an able bodied person and can enjoy the chance to do this. As Socrates said “No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
If I waste this I will never discover my full potential in this area of training. Everyone has choices to make. Now stop bitching and focus on the good in this situation. Instead of talking myself into ‘how heavy it feels’ and risk letting doubt and fear creep into my thoughts, I choose to think about all the people and things I am thankful for in my life. Each rep came and went as I dedicated every lift to one particular person that inspires me.
I felt relaxed and light. I hadn’t even realized that I was near the end until my team mates and friends started shouting at me. ONE MINUTE LEFT! Then I came to and pushed through like a bat outta hell. Last minute to lay it all out and leave nothing to my imagination on “shoulda, woulda, coulda” train.
3-2-1 Bells down. Total rep count. 78. To my surprise I not only lasted for 10 minutes, but I came 6 reps shy of achieving my CMS (candidate master of sport) the third highest rank you can be awarded.
At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter how much sweat, blood and tears you poured into your training. What matters is that time and time again, is that you are willing to try to 100% of your capabilities today to become who you want to be tomorrow.