Fitness isâ€¦Slinking, creeping, unraveling doubt.
The truth is weâ€™d much rather assume defeat than face our weaknesses head onâ€”far better to avoid the mirror than risk a humiliating sidelong glimpse. In essence, doubt is a mechanism designed to protect our ego from this very confrontation. Years of experience and pain have honed our instincts to sidestep landmines of embarrassment and grief, conditioning us to be chronic under-estimators. On the whole we have grown habitually and pathetically risk-averse.
The problem with this way of living is twofold. First, we forget what itâ€™s like to face a challenge, thus neglecting the skills needed to overcome it. Whichever way you slice it, life is hard and emotionally uncomfortable. It is never quick or easy, and it is harshly unapologetic. In order to truly grow we must be willing to live on the margins and step outside our comfort zone, in many cases risking failure. We need to tap into stores of courage and determination that most days lie collecting dust. If we donâ€™t, they lose their potency and condemn us to chronic intimidation. Then on that day when we no longer have a choice, when we canâ€™t avoid the issue or sidestep the mines any longer, we donâ€™t have what it takes to survive. You find yourself on an operating table with 3 stints in your heart and no idea how you got there, no idea how to recover. Or you wake up geriatric at 55, unable to pick up your grandkids for fear you might pinch a nerve or slip a disc. Such is not the intended way.
When I was a junior in high school I played cornerback for the varsity football team at 5â€™9, 145 lbs. I wasnâ€™t particularly quick, strong, or tough, and I wasnâ€™t the coachâ€™s son. The only thing I really had going for me was my brain. I always knew where to be and when to be there, and on the not so infrequent occasion when someone else forgot where they were supposed to be, I could get him there too. The problem with being this aware was that I couldnâ€™t fool myself into believing I was something that I wasnâ€™t. Other guys may have convinced their 2nd string bodies they were all-state material, but I knew I was average. I knew I was small and slow and, most of the time, scared. These were facts. They defined my capabilities.
One day in practice our tight end (a 250 lb behemoth) caught an out route and turned upfield towards me. I had made plenty of tackles in my life and knew that going low was the safe play, but for whatever reason I went in high with no regard for life or limb. Somehow I connected just right and my 145 lb frame flipped his 250 lb one like a buttermilk pancake. I couldnâ€™t believe it. It didnâ€™t compute. The player I thought I was could never have made that play. Yet there I was, standing over the dragon slain.
Itâ€™s no different in society. People arenâ€™t blind or misguided: they look in the mirror and know what they see. If itâ€™s unpleasant theyâ€™ll trim it, tuck it, or wrap it in fancy paper, but deep down they know their shortcomings. Many are haunted by them. Some overcompensateâ€”the 5 foot guy drives a Hummer, the incompetent boss screams about everyone elseâ€™s incompetenceâ€“ but most simply avoid the issue entirely. Precious few address the fact that the doubt in their subconscious is rooted in truth. That guy is 5 feet tall. That boss is incompetent. Until something happens to change those facts no amount of compensation or avoidance will make them feel any better.
The only way to overcome doubt is to welcome it, face it, and test it. We have to invite our weaker sides onstage and see how fragile they truly are. For me it happened by accident, but more deliberate approaches are just as effective. Start by using your doubt as an indicator of where you need work. Rather than silently dreading the day when double unders come up in a WOD, do so many of them that youâ€™d just as soon skip rope across the street as you would walk there. Rather than telling yourself youâ€™re too old to keep up with the fire-breathers, re-define your limits and stop making excuses. Refuse to be intimidated by your weaknesses and you might discover that all this time you were drowning yourself in a 3-foot pool.
Until that hit 10 years ago, I was limited by my own under-estimation. Afterwards I was more aggressive, more decisive, and more effective. I promise that unless you risk your ego from time to time you will never overcome your current limits. They will fester and persist until that pallid reflection becomes real. Remember this the next time that voice starts pounding against your temples. Maybe the outcome isnâ€™t so certain.
This article is dedicated to YOU. Are you fired up yet?
– From ACF Staff