This weekend was amazing! After almost 2 years of doing CrossFit, I finally decided to compete in my first CrossFit competition, the Raid Games. Long story short, I ended up finishing in 16th place out of 68 competitors in the RX division, a finish I was extremely happy with!
More importantly though, I learned a lot about myself as a person and how I can use the things I learned to help me accomplish even more in the future. Here are 3 very important “life lessons” I learned from my first CrossFit competition.
1) Use urgency to your advantage.
Anybody who has ever worked in sales knows the power of urgency. It’s the reason why the last job I worked at labeled their sales as “one day sales” even though the deals would last for several days. Urgency gets people to do things that they wouldn’t normally do when they have a chance to sit back and rationalize it. Last week, as my first competition was drawing close, I saw how powerful a motivator urgency could be.
On Wednesday, 3 days before the competition started, the workouts were announced. My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach when I learned I would have to do bar muscle ups and handstand walks. These were 2 things that I sucked at and never spent any time practicing. I had planned to rest and recover in the days leading up to the competition, but now I had to scramble to learn these new skills.
I spent close to 10 hours the next 3 days working just on bar muscle ups and handstand walks. With every day that passed, I could see myself improve. I went from barely doing a single bar muscle up to being able to string together 5 in a row without a problem. My handstand walk improved from me getting up just long enough to fall right down on my back, to being able to go close to 20 ft in one shot.
In the first 20 months of doing CrossFit, I rationalized why I couldn’t be good at these two things. But with the help of some urgency, I was able to see a drastic improvement in both in just a few days.
It is amazing what we are capable of once there is the right amount of urgency and motivation is in place. If you really want to learn a new skill or achieve something in your life, you have to set a deadline that pushes you to do it in a short amount of time.
2) Surround yourself with people who are better than you.
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn is famous for stating that you are the combined average of the 5 people you hang around most. He says that you will have the combined attitude, health, and income of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Basically, if you want to improve an area of your life, you should surround yourself with people who are better than you; people who are already successful.
Luckily for me, in the months leading up to my 1st CrossFit competition, I was able to train regularly with some of the best athletes in south Florida. I was training with the athletes that would eventually finish 1st, 3rd, and 4th in this weekend’s competition.
When we first started working out together though, it was overwhelming how much better they were than me. What I previously thought was strong or fast was being redefined by athletes who were much stronger and much faster. It was like pulling on to a freeway where everyone is driving 80 mph and I am still going 30. I quickly had to learn how to speed up or get run over.
After several months of training together though, their pace began to slow down. Don’t get me wrong, they were still getting better, but mentally and physically I was starting to catch up. I wasn’t quite up to speed yet, but now 85 mph doesn’t seem so fast when I’m going 65. It may take a few more months, but I now believe that I can be the one pushing to 90 mph in some workouts.
I never would have known that level of performance was possible if I didn’t get to experience it for myself. I had to surround myself with people who were better than me in order to realize what I was capable of.
3) Don’t be afraid to rely on others.
I never thought I would use a quote that I heard on an episode of The Next Food Network Star, but here it goes: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”
I have always been the type of person that tries to push people away when it comes time to really get stuff done. I was the guy in college who would get assigned a group project and end up doing all the work myself.
But one of the thing’s I have learned from CrossFit is that a group of people is way more powerful than any one individual could ever be. We all have strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. If you truly want to reach your potential as an individual, than you have to let the people around you help you.
When I was scrambling to learn bar muscle ups and handstand walks in the days leading up to the competition, the old me would have went out to the park alone and practiced for hours by myself. This time I decided to take a different approach.
I had my girlfriend come to the park and film me and give me pointers on what I could improve. I had my coaches and clients from the gym watch me and give me advice. I was able to get immediate feedback and learn that I wasn’t getting my legs high enough on the muscle ups and I needed to be more patient on the handstand walks. One of the clients even created a custom tape guard for my hands that allowed me to perform the bar muscle ups with ease without ripping my hands. These were all things that I would never have figured out if I tried to do it on my own. And it allowed me to make dramatic improvements in only 3 days.
Next time you have a goal or important project you need to finish, go out of your way to make sure you incorporate the people around you. Surround yourself with people who are already successful at the goal you are looking to achieve, and it will be much easier to follow in their footsteps.
Share your goal with your friends and allow them to keep you accountable and provide a valuable perspective beyond your own. You don’t need a pricey personal trainer to get you and keep you on track. All you need is an honest friend or two.
Set deadlines for yourself that require you to reach milestones along the way. I had to face the very real deadline of learning these moves for the competition, but a fake deadline could have served just as useful. How many of us continue to opt for handstand pushups or wall walks over handstand walks, or we opt for single jump ropes over double unders? If we never force ourselves to learn and progress then we will never grow. It’s amazing how quickly progress can happen when you set yourself up in the correct way for success.
Finally, I want to say thank you to everybody who came out to support me throughout the weekend. It truly made the experience special. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to make it out there, here’s a video of the final workout that I did on Sunday.
“Armor” – 3 Minutes to perform a 30-second L-Sit Hold and as many deadlifts as possible at 225lbs.