I didn’t know what to write about this week, but then I went to my Olympic lifting class and the “eureka” moment happened in the strength and conditioning centre (SCC) between sets of clean pulls (literally picking the barbell up two feet off the ground and putting it back down). The reason the SCC intimidates a lot of people is because of the Olympic weight lifters. The SCC even offers OWL-free hours (OWL= Olympic Weight Lifting)! Why be intimidated? Because Olympic lifting tends to come with a lot of noise. Primarily the sound 250 lbs makes when it falls from 5-6 feet up. It’s loud.
And I heard that crashing sound in my last session. I had just watched someone drop that 250 lbs and listened to the thunderous sound that resulted when I was inspired to write this post.
Olympic weight lifters drop the weight A LOT. I think it’s safe to say that in the strength and conditioning centre, 90 percent of the time, when those heavy Olympic weights go up, they come crashing down. The majority of what these men and women do is –quite frankly- fail. Ten percent of the time it might go smoothly. I’ve heard the word “ego” being passed around with regard to heavy lifters. Can this be the case? Think about it, they spend all this time failing. They set themselves up to fail, because the goal is to lift heavier and heavier and that means working up to it both by gradually increasing weight but also by trying again and again until successful. I don’t think they’ve got much ego at all. They know failure and they accept the opportunity to fail. They even do it with some pretty gnarly risks (YouTube has plenty of proof of that).
The risk of failure, the opportunity rather, is critical to growth (and I don’t just mean muscle growth). My Jiu Jitsu example is people who only train with those lower-ranked than them. Beating someone with less experience and less skill is not much of an accomplishment, for one. But it’s also not a learning opportunity. To learn and to grow in anything, you need to fail now and then. When my instructor puts me in a terrible body-lock, I learn not to do whatever it was I did to get in that body-lock. Someone once said that in Jiu Jitsu, there’s no losing. You win or you learn.
So give yourself the opportunity to fail. To be uncomfortable and unsure. Give your ego the day off and maybe try something new or something you’ve always wanted to do, that you’ll probably suck at. At least for the first little while. I’m not innately good at Jiu Jitsu. I’ve accomplished what I have because I’ve persisted and trained hundreds of hours and sometimes embarrassed myself. And in my opinion, that makes success taste much sweeter than if I was simply talented. It’s a wonderful feeling to work for success, to struggle, persevere and finally succeed.
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