“No, it doesn’t ever get any easier. You wouldn’t want it to either.” – Greg Glassman
When I first started CrossFit I couldn’t do a pull-up, I couldn’t squat very well and I wasn’t really sure why people would walk around a gym talking about the Snatch they got yesterday.
Growth happens at the extremes of our experience, good or bad, we grow stronger through being in situations that we aren’t comfortable in. Another way I heard this said is that we are given a challenge exactly as big as we are able to overcome. That sounds like or challenges should be small but read it again. You’re challenge and mine will be different but it will be one designed to put us at the outer limits of what we can cope with and just a little bit more so that we grow ready for the next challenge and there will be a next challenge.
My ability when I started CrossFit was low, and in order for that to improve, I needed to be challenged. The challenge, however, wasn’t to do a muscle up, or to be the next person to squat 500kg, the challenge was to do the things that were difficult to me, the things at the extreme of my ability. Do as many press ups as I could, squat as well as I could, do ring rows until I could do a pull-up. These things were the extremes for me at the time. After a while, I got better and one pull up became a 10, then 20 and on until they became a part of my normal. Then the next challenge came along. A muscle up. Pull up so high that you can transition into pushing your body over the bar.
Before I opened a gym I started coaching some friends and my ability to coach was low, as my wife and those friends will tell you, but the challenge was exactly proportional to my ability and I learned, I got educated and I improved. When I started a gym, I had some experience with business and lots as a coach but running my own business was at the extreme of my ability and I had a hell of a lot to learn. The challenges that I faced in the first year were not the challenges I face today. At one point in the first year or so of business, I thought we would have to close down because a bill came in that I couldn’t afford to pay. We didn’t get hit with a bill that was only payable by Elon Musk, but by a bill that was only just outside of what we could afford. It was a challenge that was exactly outside my experience and I didn’t know what to do.
A few years have gone on and that challenge now seems a whole lot smaller. If I was faced with it now I wouldn’t even blink. The point here is not to brag but to show you that as we grow we become more able to deal with situations that we would have thought difficult or even impossible when we were smaller people and this never ends, or at least, it shouldn’t IF we are making the effort to be pushed outside of our comfort zone, IF we want to improve.
This cycle repeats itself over and over, I only recently started writing for people other than myself and just a few days ago, what I had to say offended some people and they attacked me for it. Upsetting people is outside of my comfort zone, after all, everyone should get along, right? Throughout my life, I have been the peacemaker, even as a child I was expected to smooth the waters at home but this situation was beyond my experience. My initial reaction was to run from it, but now I realize that was a bad move, I should have leaned into it in order to grow. I have grown and I know now that not everyone is going to agree with what I have to say and that’s okay, it means I have something to say. It also means that some people aren’t in a place to grow. They prefer being offended by whatever imaginary slight they can find next, instead of getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, instead of seeing the beauty in difference.
You’re challenges and mine may be worlds apart or they may not be. My challenges are not challenges at all for some people. We are all at different places but ALL challenges have been overcome by someone before. Nothing is new. What we need to do is find the challenge that is exactly as big as we are able to overcome and lean into it, not run away from it, IF we want to grow.
In CrossFit, making the challenge suit you is easy, we scale the weights, we scale the movements, we scale the intensity. In life, it’s not that easy.