It’s been 3 weeks since the dust has settled on the 2016 CrossFit Games Open. The lucky few who made it out of the first round are deep into Regionals training by now. I know this because for the last 6 years, I was one of those lucky few. This year, however, things are a bit different. I was an individual competitor at Regionals in 2010 but have spent the last 5 years competing alongside my teammates at CrossFit Katy. We worked hard enough to field a team to Regionals every year since 2011 and even made the Games in 2014. But life happens and this year a few of my teammates will be celebrating first babies and families instead. And while everybody is happy and celebrating, there is a part of us all that is sad to see the streak end after so many years together. I tried to make a run as an individual competitor this year but my paltry gymnastics skills kept me from earning one of the coveted Top 20 spots. For the first time in my 7 years of competitive CrossFit, I had actually failed to achieve something I had set my mind to accomplish. Which leads me to the topic of this blog, why do we compete? If failure is potentially lurking around the corner, why even put ourselves in that position?
Everywhere we turn it seems like we are constantly being sheltered from failure. Parents rushing to their kid’s side to help them accomplish every task, leagues awarding trophies for all teams regardless of their finishing status, even adults refusing to leave jobs they hate. And the one thing these all have in common is this: we’re all afraid to fail. But the amazing thing that people forget when it comes to failure is that it will teach you lessons that you may have otherwise never learned.
CrossFit competitions give us an avenue to experience failure and to grow from it. We should all compete, not to avoid failure, but to embrace it and use it as one of many tools in our training. Life is unpredictable and yet, that unpredictability is something you can actually train for. When entering a competition, you never know what is going to be thrown at you and yes there is a chance that you will fail! That you will not be able to lift the prescribed weight, that you will not be able to beat the time cap, but you do it anyway! And then when it’s all said and done, you learn from it. You mold your training around it so that the next time you encounter that challenge you will succeed!
So what did I learn from my failure this year? Well first and foremost I learned that I needed a gymnastics coach! I’ve spent too many years avoiding that weakness. But most importantly I learned that I’m not ready to quit competing and while I know I won’t be successful at every competition or every workout or every skill, I will learn from it. I will improve and I will continue to face the challenge.