A Note on Mental Toughness

A Note on Mental Toughness

September 4, 2014
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Some of you have may have heard me say “Don’t tell me… show me”

I usually tell this to people whose gym attendance is spotty at best and they are trying to convince me that they will do better. “I’ll be there coach.” “I’ll be dedicated”

Intentions are great and all… but “Action is Eloquence”.

Less words. More action. Seriously. Don’t tell me. I don’t care about words. Talk is cheap. SHOW ME!

This next bit is mostly for the competition group but there’s some good to know stuff for everyone so here goes… In my frustration the other day, I know I came off a bit like a jerk, and I’m sorry for that. The truth is that I care about you guys all very much and it bothers me to hear self defeated or self deprecating talk coming from you. I know you don’t think it’s a big deal, but it is. What you do and say reflects what you believe. And what you believe reflects what you know.

I want you to know and its worth repeating… and I will continue to tell you time and again: YOU CAN. I never ask you to do something you can’t. You know me well enough to know that I’m faster at taking away intensity than giving it. If I give it to you, take it is a compliment. It means I think you can handle it…and if I prove myself wrong, I’m quick to take it away again. My interest in your well being is longsighted and has nothing to do with my own short-lived personal glory as a coach. I don’t make a living from the gym. I’m here because I want to make people better.

Anyway… let me get to the point of all this. I want to draw your attention to something that CJ at CrossFit Invictus said about yesterday’s competition workout:

In all honesty, the step-overs were meant to be 10 reps, but I didn’t catch the mistake until late when many others had already done it, and some interesting things were coming of it, so I left it up.
First of all, it’s not impossible to make these timeframes…several have made it through 4-7 sets on pace. It is, however, improbable that most people will make it through without scaling the number of reps. That’s exactly what we expect, and what a large population of the followers have been doing the past several Wednesdays.
Outside of the physical training benefits, the purpose of these 30-minute EMOMs is mental hardening, and to do that best you have to put people against the seemingly insurmountable and find out how they respond. Some people keep trying – giving everything they have in each 60 second period until the bitter end. Others will give up because they couldn’t succeed. It’s a nice test for one day to see how people will hit that wall…and a good opportunity to learn from it in future workouts/events that test the outer limits.

This theme on mental hardening has been poking its head out a lot lately. 2 years ago when I started the intern process for the CrossFit Seminar Staff, Pat Sherwood told me that I needed to be more “relentless”: more relentless in correcting movement, more relentless with no-repping people when appropriate, more relentless in making even good movers… better.

My making the Seminar Staff has proven that I’ve gotten that part. But the part that I’ve been a little lax on is the mental toughness of my athletes. Many of you have been with us for quite a while but are still not even close to your potential. The reason for that I KNOW in large part is a lack of mental toughness. You sandbag your loads. You tell yourself you can’t do it. You let your fear cripple you from pushing yourself. You shy away from the things with which you struggle. You only do the things you like or can do well. But you can’t get better at something unless you allow yourself to be challenged, inconvenienced, uncomfortable, or sometimes completely humbled… and then keep at it until you finally kick it in the teeth.

It starts in your mind guys. Are you gonna tough it out and grind your way through? Or are you gonna quit? Are you gonna complain? Or will you embrace the suck and be stronger physically AND mentally. Some of you are absolutely killing it because you are blindly believing everything I tell you. But some of you are severely crippling your progress because you’ve convinced yourself that what you’re trying to do is just not doable. Or maybe you just don’t bother to try at all. If you tell yourself you can’t, you’ve failed before you even started. You are all so much more capable than you know. Show Up, be humble, be teachable, and KEEP PUSHING!

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