A year or so ago I found myself running extremely behind as I was driving through some crazy traffic to get to work on time. Before I owned (em)POWERHOUSE Gym, I trained boot camp classes in the early morning hours and then served as a high school math teacher and softball coach for my “day job". The specific vehicle I was behind was moving at a considerably slower pace than I needed to be traveling in order to make it to work on time. Any teacher out there knows that it’s not easy to just hit the ground running, but that’s what my morning was about to look like if this guy didn't push the pedal to the metal. DIDN’T THIS GUY KNOW THAT HE WAS MAKING ME LATE?
I look back and laugh at that situation.
Maybe two weeks following this incident I was driving again, probably on the exact same highway, but THIS time I was driving much more careful and slower than normal because I was hauling a birthday cake in my backseat. You guys know exactly what that’s like –be it hauling a cake or transporting your dogs or traveling with a new bouquet of flowers – you have to be wicked careful or else the cake will drop, the dogs will slide all over the backseat, or your flowers will spill over and the leaking vase will quickly make a mess.
So I mean it when I say that I was driving SLOW to keep the backseat in order so not to mess up this pretty little birthday cake. But when I looked into my rear view mirror, a lifted truck was riding my bumper, and the car language (you know, like body language) was totally not cool. I could tell the guy was annoyed as I slowly took the curve around to merge onto the other highway, and my suspicions were right-on as he hightailed it past me once he got the opportunity. Geez. DIDN’T HE KNOW THAT I WAS HAULING A CAKE?
I’m laughing again. Are you getting my point here? In the first scenario – of course the slower car didn’t know that I was in a hurry. And of course it wasn’t the slower car’s fault that I was going to be late. IT WAS MY FAULT. I was the sole reason that I was going to be late. His slower driving status wasn’t helping my case, but if we get down to it, it was my own fault for not leaving my house when I needed to – not his. Same response goes for the guy riding my bumper. He had no idea that I was hauling a birthday cake, and maybe if he had he’d have cooled his temper a bit. Maybe, maybe not.
I want to illustrate to you that people navigate through their operating systems based on past experiences or current circumstances. Maybe the slower driver is a safe driver because he’s been a victim of a frightening car crash. Or even worse - MAYBE he’s lost a loved one in a car crash. Maybe THAT’S why he drives a little slower than I do. Maybe the what-seemed-to-be angry, faster driver was on his way to an emergency situation. Maybe he needed to be moving faster than I was allowing him.
After all of this happened, I found myself a little less judgmental on the roads. Now, let me be clear, there are still some pretty senseless drivers and there are always exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, people are inherently GOOD and are merely reacting to their current situation. When someone is driving slower than I’d like, I imagine they’re probably hauling some precious cargo in their vehicle. And for the opposite, I imagine they’re in a hurry to a pretty important situation. Neither of those things may be true, but at least it's a more peaceful, less stressful reaction.
Give a little grace in life’s day-to-day scenarios.
I think these scenarios go for those in the fitness industry, too. People are quick to judge others that aren’t doing things like us. Whether you’re a runner or a crossfitter or a powerlifter or a swimmer or a lover of the elliptical – it’s not our place to say that our way is the best way. Because is it really? Do we know that OUR way is the BEST way for Jane Doe? No, we don’t.
-Maybe Jane Doe stays at the gym elliptical because it doesn’t hurt her knees and she enjoys the quiet time to herself. I loathe the elliptical, but if Jane likes it and gets the results that she wants, then GO, JANE, GO!
-Maybe Jane Doe stays with her running group because she lost a lot of weight when training to run, and hitting the pavement makes her feel good. Get your 26.2, baby! I got mine!
-Maybe Jane Doe sits at home and chooses not to work out because she’s terrified of stepping into a gym for fear of embarrassment. I’ve personally always had the confidence to step inside of the gym, but I’ve certainly felt self-conscious or not good enough in plenty of athletic or fitness scenarios in my lifetime. It's a valid emotion.
Give grace. People operate based on past experiences and current situations. Once I truly understood this concept, even the communication piece in my marriage became much clearer to me. This notion goes for everything. Every. Thing.
For the most part, people engage in fitness activities that they enjoy. Do I think that some things are more effective than others? Certainly. But maybe my goals differ from others’ goals. And that’s fantastic, too. It’s important that people continue to inspire and continue to educate.
Give grace in the coming year. And for what it’s worth, don’t drop the cake in 2016 – even IF somebody is riding your bumper.
engage. empower. elevate.
xo - Coach Fowler