We all have goals. Some are small, short term goals and other goals are much bigger and require a much larger commitment. Yet often, we can't differentiate between the two. Instead, what we want is a big shiny prize in a very short period of time. In most cases, this is not the way it works and frustration sets in far before the "holy grail" is reached. Consider the scenario of wanting something that you know isn't realistic in a short amount of time. For example, you are an intern at a huge company and your 6 month goal is to be CEO of that company. The reality of this goal is pretty much a guaranteed fail. In nearly every case, this is an impossible goal. Most of us can see that. There are so many layers to professional development that make this an obvious no brainer that it'd be hard to debunk. Another example of an impossible goal could be wanting to be the best basketball player to ever play the game even though you were cut by your high school team. Impossible.... or is it? Not every far reaching expectation that we put on ourselves is impossible but it doesn't come without some sort of sacrifice and hard work. Michael Jordan didn't become the best basketball player that ever played the game by getting cut from his high school team and practicing less. The universe didn't just shift in his favor, making everyone else less talented than him. On the contrary, every time he received an MVP award or a championship trophy, the competition got tougher. The target on his back to be dethroned as the best got bigger yet he never shied from the challenge. It could be argued that this killer instinct to win and be the best at all cost is a dying breed but I would challenge that. I believe that society has changed and evolved to offer an unrealistic ideology to this generation about what they can have without placing enough emphasis on what it will actually take to get it. For instance - young athletes are shielded from losing at every turn. At the youth level, many leagues don't even allow for a score to be kept on the game to disallow one team from feeling like losers. I can't dispute that often times too big of an emphasis is placed on winning for sports - there is no doubt about that. Parents can lose touch with reality and push too hard, kids can crumble, it can be a mess. But I am not quite sure that shielding them from losing is the answer either. What ultimately ends up happening is the great divide of the talented athletes being placed on a pedestal - told that they will be the next "XYZ" while the not as talented are dissolved out of the sport through sheer ambivalence.
Recently, the CrossFit Opens added a scaled division to the competition which I thought, in theory, was a great idea. From a participation standpoint, it will clearly produce more participants which will yield a higher market base and community for the growing sport which is fantastic. It will allow newer athletes or less "competitive" athletes to still enjoy the experience of being part of something pretty cool without the expectation that all complex movements have been learned. With that said, it is not a perfect model just yet. (my opinion) From a competition standpoint, I think we are flirting with the "we don't keep score" mentality and though I agree with the added divisions, I hope it doesn't ultimately discourage long term participation in the sport. I recently posted a blog on why I am not competing this year in the Open and I still stand by my decision completely. This has been a great competition to watch yet I haven't second guessed my decision once. For me, I compete daily. With myself. Day in and day out, I train to be the best <Me> I can be. Some training days are less "fun" than others but the work always gets done and the "game" goes on.
My question for some of the athletes (probably quite a few): Where do you go next? In the next couple of weeks, the stats will be in and you'll be able to see where you rank in the region and world. What will that information do for you? And when it is all said and done, will you be happy? I can't answer that question for anyone but myself but my observations from conversations and forums I've tuned into is that there will be some "could have, should have, would have" conversations, if there aren't already. The real questions to address going forward that may give a better direction for what to do next might be: What do you want? What are your goals? What will make you happy?
Competitions, challenges and other deadline based, statistical ranking games do nothing for me anymore. I played sports for most of my life, nearly always at a pretty high level so I don't lack experience in this department. What I've learned about myself recently is that the competition part never really appealed to me as much as the training part. My <win> comes from the results I get from sticking to my program. I'm not nearly as motivated by the cheers of the crowds of people as I am the sound of a single bar hitting the floor in between reps and the country music playing in the background. Just me and my gym time. My excitement comes from thinking about my workout the next day and being excited about it. I don't expect everyone to have this type of affection for training. For most of my life, I've had this love for training only to be told I was weird. A coaches pet... overachiever... etc. I have one memory in particular when we had conditioning for basketball one afternoon. I clearly pissed off our coach by an expression on my face about a questionable coaching decision she made (I stand by it for what it's worth) and she kicked me out of conditioning. (clearly not a coaches pet) I was not new to being the scape goat for things like this but it still made me so angry. I DID NOT want to miss conditioning. Kick me out of a game, go ahead... you'll pull me anyway but don't take away the <sport> I love - the training. So while the rest of my team trudged away through the session, I hid under the bleachers and watched the entire session. I made sure I kept track of every single lap they ran and rep they did and when they left the track, I went and finished that damn work out. My teammates weren't too surprised - they expected this of me by now. I'm not sure if the coach knew or not and I didn't care. I didn't do it for her, I did it for me.
I may be an extreme case to some but I think that we all have something that we are truly passionate about. In most cases, what you are passionate about is something you are certain not to cut corners on. You aren't going to risk not being prepared for the opportunity to be successful. I think there are some athletes out there that truly want to be better than they were last year and were hoping to use the Open as a platform to give them that validation but unfortunately, that is a flawed model given that there are too many variables to consider. The workouts are rarely (except for one per year on average) the same so you can't compare scores from the year before and if you could, it could start a debate that you are only better at those workouts because that is all you focused on but maybe you aren't actually a "better athlete". There are also way more athletes competing this year (and of course some athletes missing from previous years' competition) so your overall ranking is slightly inaccurate as well. But... on the flip side of that coin, there are 10-12 movements that are ALWAYS used in the Open that can and should be expected each year. If you are an athlete that is hoping and praying that something won't be called, you are playing with fire. Preparation is the key to success. What if we considered testing ourselves against ourselves? Many might argue that that is exactly what they are doing but I would then ask, why do you so concerned with where you "rank" in the Open? Unless you are vying for a place in regionals, the rankings seem slightly insignificant to me considering the variables that make this an inaccurate method of measuring your progress.
I'm not saying you can't be competitive - I am actually saying the exact opposite. You should be competitive - with yourself
. Because at the end of the day, you have ZERO control over what other athletes do to prepare themselves for the Open but you are in complete control of your own training program. You can have it all. You just can't have it all at the same time right away without putting the right work in
. So, when it is all said and done, will you be happy?
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