The Power of Failure
Humbling is defined as having a feeling of insignificance or inferiority.
Failure is defined as lack of success.
At the recent Hypoxia competition,
I experienced both…and it sucked.
First, let me say that I know in the big scheme of life, a CrossFit competition in Butte, MT is not significant. It’s really not that important and I am not trying to be self-important by writing about it. But let me also say, that if you are reading this, you are probably a part of the CrossFit world and you know how hard we all work, and the pride we take in our abilities, improving, and performing. We are humbled every day by workouts we cannot finish, weight we cannot lift (no matter how long we stare at that loaded bar), and people that are faster and stronger than we are. That’s what makes us better, right? To become stronger on the other end comes only through meeting the ultimately strange goal of failure and humility. That’s what I’m trying to keep in perspective.
I have done several Rx competitions (prescribed weight instead of scaling the movements) and feel that’s the category I should be in. I tried the first Hypoxia 2017 workout they released before the competition and felt good about it – five rounds of heavy clean thrusters, toes to bar, and a rope climb. I joined a team from Billings that I didn’t meet until an hour before the competition. Based on our practice times for the first workout, they decided I should go first. It was relay style so as soon as I finished the next person would complete the workout, and we had 36 minutes to get through all four people. Going first is nerve-wracking, but I was excited to prove to them they would be glad they asked me to join their team.
I started out way too fast. I was out ahead going into the fourth round. I got to the fourth rope climb and failed about halfway up. My inner dialogue was confused… “Weird, I never fail on rope climbs. Reset, let’s go. You got this.” I tried again, got about halfway up, and failed. And again. And again. I repeatedly failed for the next 28 minutes while my teammates just met had to sit there and watch me fail, try to encourage me, and miss their chance to be able to complete the workout. They were gracious and awesome about it, but it was the worst feeling in the world. The harder I tried to will myself up that rope, the more frustrated and physically exhausted I became. It was embarrassing. I managed one more rope climb before the time ran out, but it was no consolation. Time expired and I had my cry of shame.
I know my teammates felt bad for me but they were probably also pissed. I totally get it because I would feel the same. I knew we had three more workouts so avoiding them, or the rest of the day, was not an option. I had to put on my proverbial “big girl panties” and make the best of it. The rest of the day went fine. I held my own in other areas where my teammates struggled, but it didn’t count for much in my mind. I could’ve done everything else perfectly the rest of the day and it wouldn’t have mattered. That failure will stick with me for months.
When we got home Sunday night, my husband Josh and I were doing dishes and he said “You did really well yesterday, Regina. Not just with not giving up during the first workout, but in the rest of the workouts as well. I’m proud of you.” I lost it all over again. I know he truly, genuinely meant it, but there was no way I could believe that (sorry, Josh, for reacting that way). I had tried to make fun of myself in front of everyone and make light of it, but it was boiling right there under the surface and that comment was the breaking point. We are always our own worst critics no matter what logic says.
I certainly didn’t write this so you’ll feel bad – please don’t, that makes it worse! I write it because we all have been there. Whether in CrossFit or life, we all have felt like we let our team down or we could’ve done more. We all have been humbled and failed in unexpected ways. If you haven’t, remember this when you do. The things I take from this experience though are:
1. My CrossFit peeps are the most unbelievable, supportive people on the planet.
They let me cry, pout, be left alone, encourage me, not judge me, and then remind me to keep it in perspective. “Move on”, “Do better the next time”, “It’s supposed to be fun”. They are amazing and I don’t give them enough credit for all the ways they inspire me every day. I certainly didn’t give them the support they deserved that day because I was too wrapped up in my own pity party. If I haven’t told you all, I’m proud of you all. I’m proud of our gym and to be associated with you. Thank you.
2. To be grateful for what you can do, and try to improve on what you can’t.
The whole goal of CrossFit is that you will never specialize or be perfect at any one thing. I know body weight movements are my weakness and I need to be more dedicated to working on the things I struggle with and not always what I’m good at and comfortable with. I could take a lesson from my tenacious 7 year old on this one.
3. Wear pants if you know there will be rope climbs!
Seriously! The third degree (I’m totally making that up, but it hurts that bad!) rope burn on my inner thigh from sliding down the rope to avoid falling to my death is a legit lesson learned right now.