What distinguishes amateurs from professionals? There is more to the equation than sponsorships and careers based on performance… there are intangible characteristics we witness in seasoned athletes that a paycheck alone do not provide. And if this is true, doesn’t it stand to reason that by identifying these elements, we should be able to implement them ourselves?
Respect the gym.
For many people, the gym is an escape and outlet. An escape from the hectic lives we insist on creating in an effort to feel fulfilled or heck, just survive! In theory, this is a beautiful thing. Too often, however, this dependence on an hour or two spent “letting it out” and slamming some barbells around is twisted into a True Life portrayal of the battlefield in our minds. Our day manifests in the gym. We rush in from a meeting or from hitting the snooze button 76 times, hurry through our warmup thinking over a recent argument or writing to do lists (my personal favorite #OCD), and when we finally get down to it our mind is still a million miles away. We are unfocused and keyed up to be pissed as all get out when we miss a lift. Cue downward spiral. Better set your personal radius to DEFCON HULK.
“Uh yeah, that’s attempt #742 for her, I’d steer clear of that corner.”
We all know those people. Face it, we have all been “that person” at some time or another when everyone is tiptoeing around as you mutter obscenities and sigh in exasperation. Guys, it is a super awkward situation, and it is time to put an end to it. <Insert witty, attention-grabbing title. See what I did there?>
Which are you?
One of the aspects I like to discuss with my athletes is the amateur versus pro mentality. An amateur is shortsighted. Someone who is not trained to see past that day’s training. Something unexpected happens and they are so invested in that minute outcome that the crappy complex at the beginning is still on their minds when conditioning is already halfway over.
It’s not about the lift.
A true professional sees each day as a piece of a much larger picture. They understand how to emotionally detach themselves from the outcome of a solitary training session. They do not add a failed rep to the list of that day’s failures but understand that tough days come with the territory of deciding to push their physical limits and boundaries. They are driven by the end game because they have taken the time to seriously ask themselves what that end game looks like. They know it is worth the day to day journey.
Create a successful environment.
Professionals set up the rest of their lives to support their goals whether it means taking an extra 15 minutes to clear their minds before a workout or assessing what prevents them from being present and engaged during training. If they cannot alter their circumstances or environment, they learn to compartmentalize and block out distractions. They savor the good moments and use them to maintain momentum. Bad days are a matter of perspective. You can ALWAYS take something positive or educational from every experience, you just have to develop the habit. Plus, an “bad” day is still better than the day spent stuffing your face with gummy bears watching Game of Thrones. (Jk, that sounds like the best day ever. But anyway.)
Train for success.
Your MIND is the battlefield, so train it just as you do everything else. Decide what outcome you desire (might need to Start With Why) and understand that as this perspective develops, every action you take will either support this direction or pull you away from it.
Through discipline over time, it will get easier to discern between the two.
How we respond when things do not go as expected is an indication of our mental resilience and our potential, but this principle translates to far more than exercise. You are not defined by CrossFit or whatever activity you pursue. It is merely an expression of your love for physical health, a belief in testing your limits and the respect of your own athletic essence. Remember this anytime you are threatened by distraction on your path to success.