What I've Learned from 7 Years of Coaching


This picture is from my first CrossFit L1 cert in Omaha, NE, in November of 2010. Since then, I've picked up some pretty handy tricks for coaching people's physical abilities, but what I'm continually most surprised by is how much I've learned about the confusion and frustration in the mental aspect of success.

Instead of going into detail on all the small points I’ve stumbled upon, I want to focus on a big one. This single issue not only has a trickle-down effect into almost everything we do, but it’s especially worth examining because it's characteristics are subtle, and are seldom even recognized as problematic.

What is this mysterious beast? I'm talking about the power of our egos...

It's our egos that convince us that skipping a workout makes more sense than trudging through those that might not go as perfectly as we would like. A little uncomfortableness every now and then is good for all of us. Embrace it!

Our egos stifle our progress by telling us to play it safe and to not pursue new feats, in fear of looking foolish. When has the initial discomfort of the learning process not been worth the while when you see a new challenge through? Likely NEVER.

Our dang egos trick us into believing that there’s no sense in starting back on the path to health and fitness after a break because there’s now just too much ground to cover to catch up. The voice telling you that you’ve waited too long and now are past the point of no return? It only gets harder to deal with the longer you wait.

It’s our ridiculous ego that doesn’t want us to celebrate the success of others because, in comparison to them, we’re not where we want to be. Graciousness always comes full-circle. Be good to those around you and they’ll return the favor when you need it.

Our egos allow us to justify cheating reps to get a “good” score in competition. Oh, don’t even get me started. Great, now I’m yelling! NOW I’M YELLING! C’mon, son. It’s just exercise!

Last (well, for this post at least), our egos let us settle for sub-par range, or poor quality in training just to create the illusion of moving forward. Is the purpose of your grind to get better, or to win a popularity contest? Be the humble badass that people look up to, not the person cutting corners to boast about being the best.

These instances are obviously specific to my coaching-based line of work, but it is not too hard to imagine how they can present themselves in many other aspects of our lives.

So, where do we go from here? This next section is where I’ll tell you–in finite detail–how to completely destroy all the negative issues associated with an over-fed ego, and how to live the rest of your days in the most humble, monk-like state any of us could hope to achieve... Sorry, these are lies.

What I can tell you though, is that we are in more control than we might believe. How? For starters, we can pay attention to our actions. Why are you cheating your range or racing the person next to you so intently? Have you ever given your actions some thought? Many times we haven’t even stopped to think on the issue!

None of us will turn, overnight, into some sort of superhuman master of self control, but I do believe we can chip away at being happier with our successes if we stop and think about our actions more often. While you won’t change these habits quickly, but you can immediately begin working on making them better.

One, many, or maybe all of these may strike a cord with you–and they are often not so fun to address! But, I promise you, that if you are to begin the noble journey of paying attention to why you do the things you do, you will ultimately make progress on the subtle effects of the ego-driven decisions we make, and will be much happier with yourself for stepping up.