Everyone’s congratulating me on a GREAT SET! With spirit soaring, and body spent, I stand firm and take it all in. “Focus on the present moment,” I am told by my wise counsel, but I can’t help but think about every day that led to this moment. Every day I did work, when that was the last thing I wanted to do. I can’t help but know I did not get here by some instantaneous miracle or genetic mutation. It was focusing on the present moment, each day, just like today, and sticking to the game plan. It was action (NOW! Not later). It was diligence. It was daily discipline. It was consistency in the face of adversity. It was dedication to a greater experience that only existed in my mind. Glory is only glory, because of the hard work, focused intensity, and patient endurance that it takes to get there. If glory came by genetic mutations or instant miracles, no one would desire it, seek it, or believe in its power. It is the tireless journey that evokes the secret power of glory found in competition.
When I begin my journey toward a competition, I use the motivation found in bettering myself to stay committed. Improving my numbers. Improving my power. Improving my strength. Improving my endurance. Improving my mobility. Improving my technique. Yet it is within the daily grind of training that the real secret powers are revealed. It is the daily grind–the difficult sets, the failures, the small wins–that test our mettle. How bad do you want it? Does it make you writhe in pain when you don’t hit your numbers? Can you forget your last set of failure, and focus on giving everything in the next set? Does your gut wrench when you think about the necessity of embracing the present pain, that will produce the change necessary for the competition? Finding out that you have what it takes to compete, is a secret power that will never be taken away from you. When the mettle is tested, it is the true self that is found.
The training set, like the competition set, reveals our true self. Whether we win or lose, we get the opportunity to see what we are made of. If you fail to hit your numbers, will you mope and cry, and find an excuse to quit, or will you dig deeper into your character and stand on the platform again? I have failed during many training sets, and even though I set an American Record (which was INCREDIBLE!) I did not hit the numbers I was shooting for in Kettlebell Snatch. So what is my true self? I sat in the power, beauty, and praise of the winning moment, but after a day, my mind is already finding issues in my programming, holes in my training methodology, glaring deficiencies in my technique, problems in my grip, and areas for improvement in my breathing, conditioning, and strength. The competition is my scale. (I) have been weighed on the scale and found wanting. (Daniel 5:27) The moment I think I am perfect, is the moment I begin to lose. The moment I dig deep and find my ego, I will start to lose. It is only in the moments of training and competition that I discover my true self (with all of its weaknesses, frailty, complications, and problems) that I can begin the journey upward toward glory. The secret power of competition is its ability to reveal our true self, and that is a true gift.
I came so far, six months of build-up, and now the moment is in front of me. It is extremely difficult to get my adrenaline and nerves under control, but if I don’t, my performance will suffer. Mindset before and during the competition is what separates winners from losers. This is when patience and the process pays dividends. I rely ultimately on the process. It is only what I have done up to this point that matters, so thinking about what if’s and changing strategies last minute will only ruin my performance. Even if someone is warming up different, or telling you how successful this technique is, or how perfect a certain training program was–it is NOT the time to second-guess your coach, training, technique, or strategy. Stick to the plan. Your patience in the process will help quell the nerves, and then only time will tell what result you establish. If the result is what you desired or better–CONGRATULATIONS are in order. If the result is not what you wanted or hoped for–CONGRATULATIONS are STILL in order. Nothing…NOT EVEN YOU…can take away that fact that you stood where few stand. In front of God and everyone, you did the VERY BEST YOU COULD WITH WHAT YOU HAD! Don’t ever take that away from yourself. That is the biggest secret power to competition. The fact that you did it, period. No matter what you will do after your moment on the platform., for better or worse, you will build nerves of steel, patience, and respect for the process.
In the moment of competing it is only one that matters. One lift. One second. One person. One breath. One thought. Everything that came before no longer exists, and everything in the future bears no importance now. It is what is done in the here-and-now that is important. The secret power of competition is finding only one moment with the utmost clarity–NOW. The secret power of competition is living in the purity of the present, and riding it to the finish. That is how to experience the true elation of competition.
Competition builds in us a respect, humility, and honor. By taking action today again and again and again and again, we respect those that have come before us to do great things. By testing ourselves in training and competition we find our true selves, bringing about humility. Patience in the process, steeling our nerves, and focusing on the present moment we bring honor to our coaches, team mates, competitors, friends, and ourselves. I am so thankful for the Second Annual California Open Championship held at Innovative Results and ran by Orange Kettlebell Club, Ketacademy, World Association of Kettlebell Clubs, and The United States Kettlebell Sport Federation. I am thankful for the medal, trophy, American Record in Biathlon, and my team’s accolades, but more importantly, I am thankful for the character changes competition creates in me.