The power of perception is significant in all walks of life. The way we see the world around us has a profound impact on our actions and in turn our quality of life. Perhaps the most clear-cut demonstrations of any ethereal topic are ones with measurable inputs and outputs. This is where we tie together your worldviews and your capabilities with our beloved sport. A negative association with a movement, time domain, or workout has a measurable impact on your nervous system and your ability to realize your intentions through physical expression. These measurables present themselves as an elevated heart rate, lack of focus, apprehension, and worst of all self-sabotage. With practice, we can begin to shift our perceptions from negative to positive, but even that is not enough. These words and their insinuations are inadequate. It’s time to replace our anxiety with great desire. It’s time to realize that our worst enemies are our best friends in disguise.
How do we grow?
Let’s think back to the first time we all really hit our stride in the gym. The equation was simple: test a lift or workout + apply a slight bias towards those tests for a few weeks = set personal records in measurements of tens of pounds or full minutes instead of single digits and seconds. Getting back to that level of growth requires a shift in perception that allows us to see the reality of the situation: That we were able to improve so quickly because we attacked our room for growth with enthusiasm. The stakes were low, and that allowed us to let the adaptations take place as they naturally do. Now that the stakes are higher, we let our anxiety take the place of that enthusiasm when it’s really what we need the most. Our deficiencies in the gym provide us with the most significant opportunity for growth, and once we truly grasp that concept, we open up an entirely new world of potential.
What is underneath?
The reason these conversations are so meaningful is the variability from athlete to athlete. As a coach, I cannot snap my fingers and tell someone that they should love the most challenging things because they hold the most significant room for improvement. The end goal of challenging an athlete to actively seek out adversity is the same across the board, but how we get there is highly personal. As the athlete, it’s important to understand what lives underneath your anxiety. For so many, it is the fear of the unknown. Staring down the mountain of modalities that we are asked to be proficient in can be so daunting that we confuse competency with ability. The answer could be as simple in theory as the 10,000-hour rule. Get to work and don’t come up for air to reassess until you’ve put the time in. But there’s often another layer that involves expectations, apathy, trauma, or any other deep personal source of frustration that can conquer the desire you need to flip this whole idea upside down. We must know our enemies before we can figure out how to defeat them. To realize your potential, you have to be willing to identify and dismiss these feelings that hold you back from harnessing the power of perception.
What are my next steps?
Armed with a newfound desire for actively seeking out adversity, we are tasked with channeling its power. Reading a day of programming becomes an exercise in seeing which pieces provide the most significant opportunity for growth. The old feelings of anxiety and fear will take time to dissipate, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can serve as our most important reminder of how vital our perceptions are. This will ring especially true on the days that your old anxieties present themselves for longer than we are willing to accept. It is entirely in your power to dismiss those thoughts because your desire to improve is much stronger than that little voice in the back of your head. In gym application of this mindset hinges on your ability to throw blinders on and take tasks on one at a time. That can mean anything from one day, one piece, one round, one rep, or even one step at a time. Use your willpower on the challenges that are presently staring you down, and you will realize how resilient you really are.
It’s all on you…and You wouldn’t want it any other way.
In its simplest form, this article is about our desire to improve and what stands in its way. The only productive answer to that question is you. Accepting personal responsibility for your thoughts and actions serves to remove the outside noise you cannot control. Knowing that how you perceive things can drastically change your abilities is such an uplifting idea. So the next time you catch yourself dreading a workout, throw on a little grin because it’s your greatest chance to grow.