For the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about how critical the “right” mental state is in Crossfit. But what is the right mental state? Thoughts about confidence, pride, humility, conceit and how those qualities interact, started bouncing around in my head after reading a couple of athlete’s post-Games blog entries. Ricky Frausto’s reflections on his and the Crossfit Omaha team’s performance at the Games was really informative (http://rickyfrausto.com/) and of particular interest was Lindsey Smith’s “I Wrote My Own Fate and Here Is Why” (http://crossfitchron.blogspot.com/2011/08/i-wrote-my-own-fate-and-here-is-why.html). Lindsey talks about her mindset for the year of training leading up to the 2011 Games being focused on finishing top 16 and qualifying to compete in all the workouts for the weekend (although as it turned out, this year only top 12 moved on to the final workouts).
What was so striking to me in reading this was that Lindsey Smith, a Rogue Athlete (www.roguefitness.com/athletes/) and multiple Games competitor wouldn’t have been gunning for the podium. As a Crossfit newcomer, I 100% view her as a podium contender every time. It doesn’t take much interaction with Lindsey to observe that she’s an incredibly gracious, kind and humble athlete.
“Humble?” said Charlotte. “’Humble’ has two meanings. It means ‘not proud’ and it means ‘near the ground.’ That’s Wilbur all over. He’s not proud and he’s near the ground.” -Charlotte’s Web
It’s this last attribute whose role I started to question in an athlete’s life. I wondered if it’s possible to be too humble, and how does humility coexist with confidence? Sometimes apparent contradictions can and must coexist. It reminds me of when I snatch, I think about being both patient and aggressive at the same time- on the surface these things seem contrary, but like humility and confidence they work together. I have always considered myself to be a very humble person and have even gone too far at times to ensure that I never come across as if I think I’m better than anyone else. Seriously, I think it’s a complex from being called stuck-up when I was a kid. Humility keeps you working hard, but confidence is essential, too. A number of years ago I read Matthew 5:16, a Bible verse that reminds me you should never dim yourself for anyone, or be ashamed of your abilities or talents.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”- Matthew 5:16
As I continue to develop as a Crossfitter I feel my confidence growing and I won’t lie, it feels awesome and pretty remarkable given the amount of time I spend working on things I’m not good at. Maybe that is what the challenge of Crossfit does for all of us– it forces us to rise to the occasion and break down physical and mental barriers and by doing so we build ourselves up. Very predictably though, as soon as I start feeling myself something in the cosmos is set off and I catch a dose of reality. I also have people around me who will quickly and consistently check me, and I receive the message—I have a TON of work to do. In the brief time I’ve been competing in Crossfit, at least one thing has become unequivocally clear. I perform better when I act with confidence and self-assuredness. Think about getting under a lift- what happens when you’re not quite sure you really want it overhead? It’s not going, that’s what. Self-confidence doesn’t have to translate into arrogance, but I think it’s ok to carry yourself with a little swag if that’s who you are. Besides, if you don’t believe in yourself who will?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”- Marianne Williamson