I wanted to preface this with a note.I write these blogs on virtues as a aspiration to my future self. I personally do not always exhibit these traits but I am trying. I write them for myself and use the same virtues as guidelines for decisions I make big and small.
I write them for my child and for his children. My hope is that they will refer to these words when I am no longer around and they are facing trials of their own.
I realize these writings are outside of the scope of what is normally discussed in a gym blog. Truth be told it’s terrifying to share these thoughts with the whole world. What if everyone thinks I’m a idiot? What if everyone thinks I write for shit? I can live with that I think. Rather that then these words perish with me, unexpressed and unfulfilled.
Part II- Courage
“Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1. The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear; bravery
2. have the courage of ones conviction, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism.
So we covered Strength in our last blog. Strength is pretty straightforward. Courage is a little more elusive.
I believe courage exercises your strength. While all exertions of strength are not courageous, all acts that require courage are exertions of strength or will. It takes no courage to pick up a 45# barbell and do a curl but it does take some strength. The word courage implies some risk. It implies the potential for failure or the presence of danger. Acts without meaningful consequences require little courage.
What does this have to do with working out and our day to day lives? Most of us don’t work jobs that can require a ton of courage. Besides our first responders and our military there’s just not a ton of risk, physically for most of us. There are other nonphysical ways to demonstrate courage though. Changing jobs or careers can take courage. Asking a stranger or your crush out on a date displays a certain type of courage. It takes courage to end relationships that no longer are beneficial to your growth as a person. Standing for what yo believe in in the face of criticism takes courage also. Outside of these few instances there’s just not a lot of opportunity this day in age to show courage.
But inside of the gym we can look for opportunities to test the boundaries of our fears and increase our courage in a controlled, judgment free environment. Your abilities will grow to the extent you are willing to reach outside of your comfort zone. You want to learn how to climb a rope? Good. We can do that. Not quite ready for a handstand? Ok, how about we scale it with a box until you are ready? All these tasks require a certain amount of bravery and courage to attempt. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid of it. There’s nothing wrong with not being ready for it. What is wrong is to accept a notion of what’s possible for yourself.
Will everyone be able to do a handstand pushup? No. That’s the reality. But it’s not for the reason you would think. Short of physical limitations (i.e. injuries, amputation, etc.) anyone can do it. It might take years. Working for hours on end with scaled and modified versions but it can be done. The real reason people never achieve a goal like a handstand push up is lack of BELIEF that they can do it. (You can change handstand to anything. Pull up, rope climb, box jump. Handstand was used for an example and I realize not everyone wants or cares about that particular movement)
It took a lot of courage to come through the doors of ION and stay. I remember when I first started CrossFit. There was only one CrossFit around at the time and it was in some guys garage. I drove by the place at least 3 times before I had the nerve to walk in and see what was going on. It was intimidating. I was pudgy and weak. There were 4 guys grunting screaming and sweating with their shirts off and I wasn’t sure if this was the place for me. It worked out and those guys ended up being really cool but I hope our place is not like that. If someone is intimidated, I want it to be because we require a certain level of commitment to our community and to themselves to be better than yesterday. If they are intimidated because we talk about sacrifice, we drop weights and we don’t accept excuses- I’m totally ok with that.
Our program asks you test your limits. To that edge you might not be 100% comfortable with. My job as a coach is to give you a nudge in the right direction towards that edge at your own timing. Everyone’s different. We all have different tolerances for failure and risk but there’s no place better to take those risks than with people you know and want you to succeed.
Courage is skill. Like a muscle, it can be built and strengthened through repeated practice. If you’re reading this and it’s not resonating-Congrats! Keep it up! If you feel like you could show a little more courage or are a little scared to commit to working on it, think about this… what is your lack of courage costing you? What dreams and goals are you leaving by the wayside?
“The fear of death is the result of an unfulfilled life”