First Time for Everything

I’m going through a week where I haven’t blogged because I have so many things I want to write about. I feel like I’m doing a disservice to each topic by even starting a blog post. I’m going to have to settle on something, though, because writing is my passion and currently my greatest talent, and I feel strange letting it sit there, unused, unnoticed, unproductive.

I went to the Puget Sound Colloquium yesterday at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. The Colloquium is an annual event for student affairs professionals in the greater Puget Sound region. Yesterday, the topic revolved around metacognition and teaching students how to learn–a distinct skill from “how to study.” As we went through the day, there were many great points, many of which I tweeted or typed into my phone; I came away with a lot of good thoughts and ideas about how to encourage my students to think about their education in different ways.

However, as a life-long learner and a CrossFit fanatic, I realized a lot of what was discussed could easily be translated to coaching and training. There was one specific takeaway that I am incorporating into this evolution, the notion that people often times believe that being “good” at something is solely the result of innate talent and skill. Applied to CrossFit, it’s this mindset that dictates because I don’t understand a skill right off the bat, I am not good at it, and it would make the most sense to accept such–or even walk away.

Now, let it be known, I am surrounded by many, many athletes who have a natural gift for athletics. They are incredibly talented, and some of them had many years in related sports, and some of them are just good at picking up new skills and excelling.

I’m not really either of those people. My years of dance do lend some help in things like flexibility and short, explosive workouts (All out for three minutes? That I can do!), but my lack of coordination deterred me from many other sports, and thus, it now hinders my fast progress. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to hit myself repeatedly with a stupid jump rope practicing double-unders, or to pull myself towards a bar as hard as possible and still not feel my chest make contact, or to fall over and over and over out of handstands. It’s awful being as uncoordinated as I am.

However, I also know that given the right settings and given the right amount of practice, I can excel. I never considered myself a particularly gifted dancer when I was younger, but I will say that I got much better in college. All the years of practice paid off into something; again, I still didn’t have the most beautiful leaps and turns, but I achieved a whole new level once thought impossible.

Same goes for CrossFit. It takes a lot of effort to go from awful to “just okay.” But the knowledge I have gleaned and the hours I’ve put in are paying off. I have a vast amount of knowledge at this point, and I crave more. This desire to learn, to immerse myself, to analyze what works and what doesn’t work–well, these things aren’t necessarily what will make me better, but it’s the processing. It’s assigning a deep meaning to the things that I do and the things that I learn that will stick with me.

That’s why I was so happy to land at HEL initially; the mission and the vision of making my training purposeful and holistic stuck with me. I didn’t know anything about CrossFit going into my time there, but I came away with a whole new fire–and a whole new me. I’ve taken that mentality with me to Seattle and my new team here, and it’s helping me achieve the next level. Granted, it’s slower than others’ paths, but that’s okay.

Skill and talent can only take someone so far. Passion, curiosity, and the ability–and desire–to find deeper meaning, these things will change lives. Learning from failure and prevailing in the face of hardships and disappointments also make the difference. My journey hasn’t been without its valleys; those of you who know me are acutely aware of this. But though the road has been winding, it has been filled with lessons and moments that make me think, and process, and ultimately decide to keep moving forward, constantly exploring.

I’ll likely never be an elite CrossFitter. I’ll be average at best. But my attitude, my love for learning, and my desire to help others achieve their goals and improve themselves will set me apart–and we’re also talking outside the box.

There are many great things ahead of me. And if it means I come crashing in, flailing, uncoordinated, yet with the biggest smile and the loudest laugh, then so be it.

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