Let me set the stage for you: I was living in Dallas in 2005 and had traveled to my hometown in Oklahoma to visit family for the weekend. I'll never forget the words my grandmother said to me after I told her that I was training to run my first full marathon.
"Are you going to win, Steph?"
I laughed before I responded. "No way, grandma. There are thousands of people running this race. I just want to finish."
"Then why are you doing it?"
I still laugh when I think back on this conversation. Her question was valid. Why would I agree to run 26.2 miles in hilly San Fran if I had no chance in winning? Well, you probably know the answer. Whether winning is an option or not, there are some of us that still compete to push ourselves to be our best.
Last week I sent an email out to my tribe (not signed up? click here to get my best stuff) talking about my goals for the next couple of months. I signed up for the StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge coming up on October 28th, and I did it in an effort to get myself geared up for training for my kettlebell cert (AGAIN). I started training for it last year, but life presented some challenges and I decided to back off from the cert because I couldn't give my best.
The TSC consists of competing in three movements: the pull-up, the deadlift, and 5 minutes of as many kettlebell snatches as possible. Of the three movements, I'm fully confident in one: the deadlift. I've got chin-ups, but my pull-up is nonexistent. My kettlebell snatches really need some work, too.
But I still signed up knowing that I probably (lol) will not win. That's not to say that I'm lacking confidence or that I'm going to be relaxed in my training. I'm simply being realistic in the fact that there are people that train year round for this, and I'm coming in three months prior with a mindset of "I'm all in to do the best that I can."
I COULD have stuck with something that I'm more familiar with. After all, we live in a society where it's expected that we compete to win. As a former softball coach I get that. We entered tournaments with a mindset of doing the best that we could, but our end goal was always competing to win.
Also - arm wrestling. I don't want to just compete. I want to WIN. Gimme. Your. Arm.
But on a serious note- I think our constant need to win or 'already be at the top' hinders us from taking on new ventures, activities, or even engaging in difficult conversations.
"I'll join the gym, but I need to lose a little bit of weight first."
"This eating regimen isn't working. I quit."
"Uncle Joe is set in his ways. He'll never see my side of things."
We miss out by opting out. And I'm not talking about things we don't enjoy. I'm talking about things we're interested in doing, or things we know we need to do - but we avoid said things for fear of not winning, not competing, looking dumb, or feeling like a failure.
Growth is in the process. Nobody starts off deadlifting their bodyweight. Relationships don't exist without difficult conversations. And losing weight doesn't happen overnight. We are all too quick to celebrate at the finish line without crediting that we had to actually step over the starting line FIRST.
Join the gym.
Eat your veggies. They're good for you anyway.
Have the difficult conversations.
It's always something for something. It's never something for nothing. I say that in my gym all the time. Be intentional - with lifting reps, nutrition, conversations, action. Decide to grow. Strive for discomfort, even if it feels silly or uncomfortable in the beginning.
I won't win, but I'm damn sure giving my all for the next few months of training. And there's one thing I know for sure. I'll be better on October 28th than I am today. THAT'S winning.