S.O.S

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Save Our Souls!

When you’re 1500m into a fast 2000m row or 10 minutes into a 30 minute workout, it may well be going through your head.

But that’s not the topic of this post.

The topic is Shiny Object Syndrome.

We all know someone who is always changing their focus, hopping from program to program and pursuing one goal for a few weeks and then wanting something else entirely a few weeks later.

How many of you set goals for yourself?  Here’s the Goals Board from 2017.

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How many of you achieved your goal?  How many of you were overwhelmed by the size of your goal, so even though you made it public and you were, at least a little bit, accountable, you still didn’t make it?

The old wisdom of having to eat an elephant one bite at a time can be relevant here.  If you had adequate cold storage for an elephant then you could plan out how to eat it over the course of a year.  You could apply some of these tips:

·         Plan to eat elephant at least several times a week, but use different recipes so you don’t get bored of the same thing over and over again,

·         Invite some friends round to share it with you,

·         When you feel hungry, eat a bit more to account for when you’re not and you eat a bit less,

·         Ask others for ideas on how best to cook different sections so you can focus on the actual eating part,

·         Have smaller goals, such as finishing the trunk in the next month.

·         Commit to the idea of eating the whole thing instead of needlessly also trying to fit a hippo in your freezer after a couple of weeks of elephant.

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Now please don’t take this as advice to go out and kill big animals to try out the tips in this article, but instead start by applying some of those tips to your goals for 2018.

·         Be open and honest with your goal.  Help others keep you accountable.  If you don’t show up to a training session, or miss a nutrition check in then people will chase you down.

·         See if anyone else has similar goals who you can work with.  Social interactions help build mental health alongside physical health.

·         Dedicate at least some time several times a week to your goal, but know that some days you’ll feel like doing more and some days you’ll feel like doing less – don’t feel like doing 20 minutes of handstand work if your shoulders are tired?  Try 10 minutes.  Feel fresh and see 3 sets of pull ups as a starter?  Do five.

·         Start to work with a coach on your goal so you can outsource some of the thinking responsibility.  Professionals are there to help you.  They may know some better progressions.  They may know the same stuff as you but now your brain power can be devoted to something else in your life.

·         Have smaller process goals along the way so you can always feel like you’ve achieved something, e.g. if you want to squat 100kg and can currently squat 60kg then chalking off each 5kg milestone can help. 

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When incompetent isn't an insult

This isn’t an article that will bash CrossFit, strength and conditioning or the constant exploration of the boundaries of human potential by ordinary people.

This is an article exploring the ideas surrounding awareness and competence.  Feel free to relate it to your own fitness journey.  Feel free to relate it to your chosen profession, whether that’s CrossFit coaching or being a doctor.

Everyone everywhere has a level of awareness about any given topic.

Everyone everywhere has a level of competence within any given task.

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Viewed as a graphic, it looks like this:

Let’s use times tables within maths as an example.   Before you go to school and start to learn you have no awareness of what maths is and consequently you can’t do any maths, therefore you can be viewed as unconsciously incompetent.  You discover numbers.

As you develop and start to do some maths lessons you become aware of maths but you aren’t yet competent and make mistakes so move towards the consciously incompetent area of the graph.  You begin the process of learning how the numbers work together.

More deliberate practice and focus helps move you towards conscious competence, where you still have to concentrate on the questions but are getting the answers right more often than not.  Disciplined effort is required.

Time spent grooving these patterns start to make things much more automatic so that problems that would’ve once upon a time baffled you are solved without conscious thought – the zone of unconscious competence.  You skillfully apply your skills within maths.

Watch any great sports person at work – they appear to make decisions without thinking and invariably make the right choice.  The old doctor who has seen virtually every medical condition under the sun can quickly diagnose without having to look up symptoms and treatments.  Musicians who can pick up instruments and within a couple of minutes learn a new song probably can’t explain how they do it, but they do.

A more detailed version of the previous graphic:

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What are the take home messages from this article?

  • When you are new to something in the gym accept that it will take time to become skilled at it.  Not being able to do something may just mean you’ve never seen it before.
  • When you know someone is newer at something you should give them time to practice and focus so that they can move along in their progressions.  They’ll thank you in the long run.
  • Every new task and environment presents an opportunity for you to be unconsciously incompetent and start to move forwards with your progression towards mastery.  Seek to be incompetent, get out of your comfort zone and develop yourself.
  • Consider how the concepts discussed in this previous article might apply as you try and make progress.