I’ve always contended that you can glean valuable insight about how someone lives their life by the approach they take in the gym. This is, after all, the underlying premise of Badass and Beautiful.
Case and point: Watching clients choose their equipment for the day’s particular workout. We discuss the details, I provide a few strategic suggestions, and then I observe. I let them choose the weights they think are appropriate for the exercises and number of repetitions at hand.
The outcome is typically very predictable. The majority will gravitate towards weights they know to be safe, which is reflected in this type of corresponding exchange:
Me: You’re going to squat with that?
Them: Yeah. Because I know I can.
While it may seem like common sense (safety, without a doubt, should be first and foremost in any workout), this mindset is also a clear indicator that departing from one’s comfort zone is deliberately being avoided. Yet the irony is that the biggest risk we face is the one that is never taken. Because doing something simply because we know we can nearly negates the purpose of even doing it in the first place.
Think: What do you expect to learn about yourself from participating in anything where the end result has already been determined?
True growth – be it physical, mental or emotional – comes from placing ourselves in situations where the parameters alone are unpredictable. Where the best and only preparation you have is a fundamental knowledge of your own personal strengths. Only then do you learn what you’re truly made of, as you are forced to respond in real time to ever-ebbing challenges. You cannot, after all, know where you stand until the rug has been pulled out from under your feet.
The possibility of failure, of course, is an omnipresent part of this equation. And if it isn’t, consider it a warning sign that you’re not even close to giving your own personal boundaries a shove. The key, however, is recognizing the potential failure with a glance – not a fixed stare – to motivate you to plan purposely to avoid it from happening. By focusing on the outcome you want to form as opposed to the one you want to avoid, the entire context becomes reframed.
So start seeing the power that is inherently intertwined with doubt. That every “I can’t” is really your psyche’s way of saying “Whatcha got?” Just know that in order to answer, you must move away from safety and take risks like it’s your job. It will be uncomfortable. It will be scary. But sorry you will be not.