Mental Toughness and Being Competitive (Part 2)

compete(Here is part 2 to a section on competition from my upcoming book.I last left off talking about how you should make being a competitor one of your goals. I’m a huge believer in competing and striving to do be the best you can be. If you missed part 1, just back pedal to last week.)
With traditional workouts, there is little to be competitive for. In fact, this society is general, has got gotten too soft and less competitive. When I used to teach elementary school, competitiveness was seen as undesirable trait and was heavily frown upon. Subduing one’s competitive spirit is terrible thing to do to a child and to an adult. Reawaking your competitive juices is rejuvenating. This mental toughness program urges you to be competitive in everything you do because life is all about the competition. Once you achieve this competitive spirt, it will set you apart from others.

Competiting does not mean winning over losing. As you heard alrady, I do not believe in the “winning is the only thing” model. If you get to be on the podium floor that’s cool, but getting first place is not the competition that I’m talking about. It is about striving for excellance. It is about doing the best you can. You must be driven day after day to do to do things better you have ever done them before. You will sharpen your competitive skills with the physcial challenges as the WODs will force you to outdo yourself.

Once you understand the empowerment of a “competitive mindset,” you must apply it to how you live your life. Notice I didn’t say “champion mindset” either. I could care less about blue ribbons or gold medals; the only thing I’m concern about is pushing yourself to do better than the last time. This is the competitive nature that you must covet. I suspect most people are non-competitors as a result of living in this society where particpation gets you an “Honorable mention” award. This “everybody is a winner” attitude has lead you poor souls to an unrealsitc and naïve view of the world. Life isn’t this easy nor will it make accomadations for your special needs. The world is quite the opposite. Sure, there are free hand-outs, but getting something for nothing will decimate your competitive spirit. You must work hard for what you desire and compete with thousands that want exactly the same thing you want. There only a limited space for glory and those who get there are the ones that compete by gritting and grinding. That’s how competitive this world is now. It’s a dog eat dog society full of cut throat scumbags, lying backstabbers, good for nothing cheats and down right, just plain awful people. You better learn how to compete against evil so at the very least, you can protect yourself from its harm. If you let evil defeat you, you will find yourself alone, broke and very undesriable. I’m sorry, but you don’t get a trophy just for showing up. You must claw, bite, fight and compete just to survive, let alone get ahead in this world.

Learing to be an aggressive competitor in life will just enhance your overall quality of life. Most of the time, your opponent will be yourself. You must strive to outdo yourself with every opportunity that you get. So look for situations at your work, dream goals and with your love ones for you to get better at. Never be just satisfiied with your past achievements. Complacency is death for the competitive warrior. When you catch yourself taking things for granted, you better wake the fuck up. Some low life is waiting to steal your job and prevent you from reaching your dreams. Snap out of your lackadasical reverie and go back to improvement mode. You can always do better.

Again, you must first develop your competitive nature with the WODs. In my 10 years with Crossfit, I have seen some pretty amazing athletes do incredible things. However, I also seen some great athletes faltered because they lacked any competitve desire. I have no doubt that if these athletes folded in CrossFit because of their limited competitive abilities, they will crack in the game of life too.

What happens with non-competitive people is that they revert to being passive when the competition starts to heat up and are unable to compete. Being timid is a terrbile trait to have and must be rectified ASAP. If this sounds like you, then you must retrieve your ability to be combative. This has to be one of your goals in this grit academy.

I used to live a life of be very hesitant. I was always uncertain of my abilities and when it came to challenging events, I heavily doubted myself. Instead of putting out maximal effort, I took the easy way out and just gave up. I was too afraid of competing because I knew I was going to lose anyway, so why bother?

Getting involved in CrossFit in my mid-40’s woke up my competitive nature that I had all bottled inside me for decades. I didn’t happened overnight as in my early months, I struggled badly and my name was habitually at the bottom of the whiteboard. I felt like I was reliving my childhood and teenage years where I was complete failure in all my athletic attempts. But, I kept at it and by doing so I began to discover the joy of competing with others to better myself.

I went from one extreme to another. From being overly soft and a huge pushover in the midst of a competition to be so highly competitive, that I know I can be real pain in the ass as I constantly need to be tested. I’ll be the first to admit, I at times, I rub people the wrong way with my competitive drive to prove that I am no longer mediocre. I just can’ help myself, but once I got that taste of competition, I always want to prove my worth. It is a major character trait that is inherent and in the blood of those who were badly scrorn the past and have some scores to settle. Some say this is a curse, while I consider it is a gift.

Those of us who are annoyingly competitive live and define ourselves by trying to out grit ourselves or others and we sure don’t mind sacrificing our body along the way. You know our type when you see us – we are the ones that train with a limp, yell and curse when we don’t meet our expectations, and volunteer to tell you are how many pull-ups we can do even if you don’t ask us. Then have the nerve to ask you how many you can do. If you tell us you can do more pull-ups than us, we do our best not to show how secretly pissed off we are.

Yep, that us in a nutshell. Competitors to the last drop.

Self-competition and striving to improve your scores, time or increase your weight load are excellent goals to strive for. Once you do beat your former scores, you will feel vindication for all your hard work. But, more importantly, when you literally see the physical evidence of the improvements on paper, you start to become a believer in yourself. For me, I thrive on my competitive relentlessness. It helps elevate my game and hopefully those around me. So if you want to smash your goals, you got to tap into your competitive temperament. Competition demands one to be in a higher level of emotion state. This volatile combination of elevated emotions and an aggressive thought process drives me with mad passion to the edge of a mental state that is kind of scary. My will becomes hell bent and I’m able to tolerate loads of pain with only one thing on my mind – I’m going to shatter my old times.

Competition is always a great thing and don’t you forget that. For those who will argue against it, they have never expereince the gratification and truimph of a long battle. The rewards are not in the wining, but from the victory of coming out of the struggle.

I have no sympathy for the non-compettive, under achievers in this world. They are clearly missing out.

Don’t fall into this group. Set your goals and set them high. Go after them as if your life depened on it. And when you crushed them, just remember one thing.

You can always do better.

(To be continued)

Today’s Litvinov WOD –

6 sets

Front squats – 5 reps

Kettlebell swings – 12 reps

Spiderman crawl – about 20 yards (approximately).  For an in-depth look at Spiderman crawls, read about it here.

The goal today is all about simplicity. The lesson is a simple one. I want you to experience the core principal of mental toughness training. That is, your mind will lead your body to do anything, even when you’re most fatigue. This is the talent that you are honing in on with this training. Most people feel such a disconnection with what they thinking and how they behave. No wonder must ordinary people feel stuck in a rut and can’t get out of their heads. This inability to do what you wish is the lack of talent for the majority of people.

So I am going to lay to out for you in simplest terms – the whole point of the front squat, swing and Spiderman crawls is to wear the fuck out of you. Period. The WOD must push you to the point where you must have serious doubt that you can go on. When you feel like quitting is when your training begins. This is the time when you must tap into your talent. So I’m going to give you just one simple coaching cue when your heart rate is out of whack and your body doesn’t want to move. Instead of saying “I can’t do it,” I want you to repeat the mantra “I can do it” over and over again. Say it silently in your head or say it out loud, but repeat it often to the point that you think you are over doing it.

While you are resting, say this mantra like you really mean it. When you are struggling with your final set of the front squat, scream “I can do it” out loud on the last rep. When you don’t think you can do another rep of the swings, say it enough times to convince yourself of it. When you are done with your final Spiderman crawl, I want you to shout it as loud as you can, “I fucken did it.”

Today’s lesson is for you to learn that your thoughts can dictate how your body to react. This WOD will not be easy, but the moral of the story is simple and straightforward. As you progress with this training, you will learn that this connection with your mind and body is significant and irrefutable. Once you understand this, you are on your way to being that tough, talented son of a bitch that you have always wished to be.

Scaled down version of this WOD –

1. Do only 5 sets.

2. Omit the Spiderman crawls.

Acceptable alternatives –

1. You can use a dumbbell instead if you don’t have access to a kettlebell.

2. Jump rope for a minute, do 10 burpees or run a minute on treadmill instead of the crawls.