on failure as opportunity

Yesterday’s workout was: 5X3 fat grip deadlifts.

We began with a warm-up which included a new movement, the pistol roll (rolling pistols? pistols with rolls?). These were a challenge, but fun.

Now generally, I enjoy deadlifts. I know that I’ve got some space to increase my capacity, and so when they come up in a workout I’m excited to work on them (and if we’re working toward a max, I generally can post an increase from my last attempt).

Today, however, was not the deadlift I know and love. It was, for lack of a better term, a disaster of monstrous proportions. It was me completely unable to do what I was being asked to do, which is a little bit devastating. We started at 95#, and I could barely keep my fingers gripped around the blue plastic. I managed 3 reps at #95; however, after adding 10# I could only pick it up one time before I failed (we were to pick it up 3 times in a row). I decreased the weight back down to 95# and did several more before I sat down and watched everyone else. And I began to feel a little bit sorry for myself.

Sitting there sulking, I immediately realized how important it was for me to have a humbling experience. It’s because I have this conversation at least once a week:

New CrossFit Person: I really suck at this. This sucks.
Me: Yes, but *everyone* sucks when they start.
NCP: Yes, but I can’t do [insert movement here].
Me: I couldn’t do those when I started, either.
NCP [looking doubtful]: Yes, but I don’t like them…

Today, however, I was one protesting “yes, but.” Yes, but I can’t do this fat grip deadlift, and so I don’t like it. And because I don’t like it (because I can’t do it), I’m not going to do it (which prevents me from EVER being able to do it). That was me, sitting down and pouting while everyone else continued to wrestle with the evil blue plastic grips.

What a fantastic lesson for me to have. I felt, for a moment, the desperation that failure invites. But failure has another invitation: an invitation to renewal. That is, an invitation to reflect, reset, and re-attempt.

My failure was an opportunity: First, I should have started with lower weight (which I still would have certainly struggled with). Second, I should not have worried about what was on the board; I should have allowed myself the workout to be MINE instead of what others could do (“so-and-so got X; therefore, I should get Y”). And finally, I should have just shut up and struggled. Because all that crabbing was wasted energy, energy that my fingers could have used to grip that fat bar and pick it up a couple more times.


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