Thursday, November 20, 2014

Don't Let the Whiteboard Define You

The whiteboard is such an obnoxious thing we do in CrossFit right? This little tap on your shoulder telling you to go harder so you could beat Janet’s Fran time or Tom ’s front squat. It’s annoying isn't it? This daily reminder of what you could've done because, odds are, you're like the rest of the world and dont red line every single workout. It’s like your nagging mom or disappointed dad are assessing your WOD.

This is the self talk so many of us have in the gym. Its constant. It raises so many feelings of inadequacy, like our workouts pail in comparison to anyone else’s and we’re somehow failures.

Stop and think about that for a second. We feel like failures because of the results of a WOD. Instead leaving our box feeling empowered, we feel defeated because our best didn't measure up to someone else’s best. 

When I was training for a half marathon a couple of years ago, my friend who was a seasoned marathon pro told me, “There will always be someone faster, and there will always be someone slower. Just run your race.” This is the reality of the whiteboard and the important distinction between competition and comparison. 

The pursuit of beating everyone in your box is a battle without end. Because as soon as you're at the top, there will be another box… then another… then another. You might as well be on a hamster wheel.

Let me give you an image of what the end game of this relentless pursuit looks like down the road. Wright Thompson of ESPN wrote a haunting description of Michael Jordan’s life after basketball. He seems so miserable, unable to test his now faded abilities against the best. Watching his aura of invincibility fade. There’s no aging gracefully for him. Just rage that he’s aging at all, losing the competitive ability that made him better than everyone else.

Its an odd thing we do to ourselves, taking this one aspect of our God-given lives and use as a litmus test to what kind of person we are. Just getting to the gym might have been an overwhelming battle for you the day you posted your worst Fran time. Your child vomited in the car. You had fight with your spouse. Your boss said you had to work over the weekend. All these things can affect our performance, but we get hung up on our place on the whiteboard because thats what everyone else will see. This is is how I will be assessed as a person.

How silly is this?

Part of what has made CrossFit so special to me is the lesson that I’m capable of more than I would’ve ever imagined. That I can be a strong, powerful man who can accomplish something hard. That I can accept a challenge and succeed. This means more to me than anytime I’ve “won the whiteboard”.

So how can we chose a better way? How can the whiteboard become a tool for you as an athlete to challenge your limits and not a roadblock in your personal growth?

Simple: You must tell yourself you don’t need it.

This isn’t an easy thing to do, considering it’ll probably tap into to a whole lot of other issues you may have swirling around inside you, but it’s not complicated. The whiteboard is a tool. It cannot tell you anything about your life other than the basic numbers of a WOD. That’s it. It can be a fun way to compete with your fellow athletes or it can take over and sabotage your experience with CrossFit. It’s ultimately up to you.

Allow the lessons of you've learned challenging yourself in CrossFit to translate into this part of your life. This is the Murph of growing as a person. You have to chose to change the dialog in your head, even when it’s hard. 

No comments:

Post a Comment