Leadership Lessons from a CrossFit Competition
Hey, hey Bold Leaders. Welcome to The Bold Leadership Revolution Podcast, my weekly podcast to help you embrace your ambition and leave the grind behind.
Today, I’m doing a debrief of a recent CrossFit competition that I participated in with my husband, John. If you’re a part of my Instagram community, you came behind the scenes with me during the days leading up to the competition and during the competition. You all voted and an overwhelming majority of you were interested in hearing me debrief my experience.
I thought it would be fun to do a debrief similar to my weekly CEO debriefs. Twice a month, I do a public CEO Debrief on my business and life, inside The BRAVE Society. These debriefs are one part behind the scenes, one part do it with me -- meaning put your butt int he chair and debrief with me and one part leadership training. For those of you who have been curious as to what it’s like to be on a debrief call with me, here you go.
From this podcast, you can expect to learn:
- Some good questions to ask yourself to debrief
- What are the things I do to cope with heightened stress
- And what I was thinking about/focused on before, during and after a big event
I’ll start this by saying I don’t like competing, I never have. Somewhere, years ago, I fell in love with the process -- the training -- the discipline of practice -- the consistent hum of repetition... And competition just doesn’t do it for me.
I’m usually a ball of nerves and this time wasn’t much different. What I DO like about competition is the mental challenge it provides and when you’re THAT uncomfortable and THAT outside your comfort zone, growth ALWAYS happens. And if there is one thing I’m 100% committed to and 1000% willing to show up for, it’s my own growth as a human being and as a leader.
If I’m going to compete I prefer team competitions over individual. Being a part of something greater than myself will always call to me over going it alone or doing it for myself. I like to do my part and utilize my strengths in conjunction with others.
A year ago, John asked me to do this competition with him and when I agreed, I was in a much different place. I was less tired bur over the last few months fatigue has rolled in and blood work has come back to prove that I’m genuinely tired. I still have some follow up blood work that needs to happen and get looked at. While I’m navigating this, I’ve pulled back a bit at the gym and am focusing more heavily on my nutrition.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in shape. I’m probably in the best shape of my life but I’m not doing certain things that aggravate my adrenals like running so in my head I have a story about not being fit right now.
So, I pretty much buried my head in the sand about this event and didn’t prepare for it very well. Now, John likes not prepping for this stuff but he also likes to compete and is a very seasoned competitor having completed a ton of triathlons and CrossFit competitions. He also trains very differently than me because we have two completely different sets of goals when it comes to CrossFit.
So I'm going to go through some of the questions I go through with my CEO Debrief. I ask myself about 10 questions, but they can change and flow, I do have a few non-negotiable questions, but they can rotate based on what I'm focused on. These tend to be those non-negotiable questions.
What were my wins:
- Followed + focused on my process
- Executed WOD 1 better than expected.
- Didn’t lose my shit in WOD 2
- Just put one foot in front of the other. One rep at a time. All the positive self-talk to raise the bar.
- Did what I needed to take care of me — didn’t stand in the blazing sun cheering everyone on.
- Hydrating well
- Took time off to let my body rest
- Got a massage
- Sticking to my mindset work + my routine
- Calming the nervous system NOT hyping it
- Having the kids come -- they made excellent sherpas and cheering squads.
What would you improve for next time?
I would have prepped better. More run-throughs of the events. More practicing the specific movements and analyzing how I could execute different strategies. I spent the majority of the time leading up to the competition praying for rain, a cancellation or John saying he didn’t want to do it. LOL. As if he would ever!
What felt challenging or difficult?
Managing the nerves. The nerves were part normal, part being on a two-person team with my husband -- I had only been on a 4 person team with him before (read this as much less pressure). And even though he said he was so excited to be teaming up with me and was just looking to have fun, I COULD NOT SHAKE the anxiety.
What is embarrassing or where are you feeling shame?
OK, I ask myself this question every week because I want to shine the spotlight on the gremlins as Brene Brown would say. I want to have an open and honest dialogue with myself. I want to understand how my inner psychology works and get present to all the things that may be holding me back.
So, if I’m being my boldest self -- here’s what had me so keyed up with anxiety. And I shared a bit about this on Instagram
I deeply struggle with seeing myself as an athlete and a fit human. Comparison sets in and as confident as I am (and I’m really confident), I feel not good enough.
I was feeling tremendous shame around the fact that our gym had 4 teams going and out of the 8 of us, I see myself as the least fit. I am the least fit. I could feel myself becoming attached to the outcome and everything devolved from there. I didn’t even want to place at the competition, that’s not what’s important to me. What’s important to me is to show up and give the best that I have to give. SO, why on earth am I in comparison mode, judging myself, and getting attached to an outcome that isn’t even mine?
Because I’m human. The goal isn’t to never feel comparison. The goal is to shift out of that state as fast as possible because it serves NO ONE. Ever.
The best thing to do when you notice yourself traveling down the rabbit hole of someone else’s goals is to recommit to yours and I did just that -- publicly on my Instagram Story,
My goals were to
- test my fitness, nobody else
- to communicate well with my husband
- have fun
Then to shift out of anxiety, storytelling and fear -- I did two things.
1. I wrote a TON of I am statements the morning of the competition. I do this when I’m needing to summon my boldest self. I am strong, I am the fittest version of myself. I am calm. I also threw in some I can and I will statements where necessary.
2. I looked at my fear which was basically “I’m slow as shit and everyone knows I suck.”
What’s the worst that can happen? I’m embarrassed
Whats the worst that can happen if I feel embarrassed? I will feel demoted and want to quit.
What’s the worst that can happen if I want to quit? I quit -- As soon as I said that, I knew I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t quit. I would push myself to do my best and that’s it.
Then I looked at what I WOULD do if I felt embarrassed and demotivated after the competition. A little negative, yes but so important to have a plan for the obstacles.
If I felt embarrassed and demotivated, I would talk about it. I would talk to my husband and the people in my life who support me like coaches. I would allow myself to feel it and cry. I would take some time off if needed. I would make sure I was asking for support and not isolating in my feelings.
Now I was ready to step into my vision for the day. The one where I show up powerfully and with the mental strength to push past anything that gets thrown my way.
IN THAT MOMENT, I WON. VICTORY WAS MINE.
When you honor your process and choose process over the outcome, you win. It’s not about revenue, winning the sale or where you fall on the leaderboard. It’s about your LEADERSHIP and this was me standing in mine.
This was all the control I had.
The things I couldn’t control::
How they ran the event and in which order they placed the workouts. Luckily we did the hardest two first.
The first event was a chipper which included a 400 m run to start and a 400 m run after 60 hanging knee raises and 60 KBS. I had no control over how badly that second run would feel. I did have control over the tears that I sucked back as I started running. Yes, it was THAT bad.
And to my surprise -- all the much better runners thought it sucked too.
I was THE MOST proud of how I performed at this event since I knew it would be my weakness. I was able to do way better and didn’t need to break things up as much as I had planned for in my initial strategy.
The day was hot, and oppressively humid also not in my control.
In the second event which I thought would be one of my strongest my quads cramped up --also not in my control. So the strategy we chose went out the door pretty fast.
The third event was the row + burpees within the time we had left we had to establish our heaviest clean. The sun came out on this event and it was beating off the black mats that we had to burpee on. It was HOT. I don’t dissipate heat well. As a matter of fact, my body doesn’t handle physical stress well. I was really proud of the weight I put up on tired and fatigued legs.
We didn’t even KNOW what the fourth event was until the day we showed up. Talk about an exercise in letting go of control. When they announced it, I thought “this is my opportunity to have some fun.” It was a pool workout on an incredibly hot day. We had to solve a puzzle -- very survivoresque which required good memory skills. I was so grateful to be with my husband because this was his strength. At this point in the competition, I was lucky to remember my name. the heat. the oxygen depletion. It wasn’t a recipe for my success but a good leader always knows they don’t have to be the smartest person in the room and I was happy to have an awesome teammate.
As I progressed through the day, I took some notes that I’ll share with you here. Exercise always allows me to tap into subconscious and creative thoughts.
I CrossFit for overall health and fitness for my life. I don’t Crossfit competitively. Because how I might need to train for a competition isn’t in the best interest of my health right now.
And beyond that I don’t even CrossFit for the physical benefits. This is purely about my mental game for me.
The physical benefits are a really awesome perk. I do have physical goals. For example, I want to take off some body fat but that largely is going to happen in the kitchen and by DOING LESS AND PUTTING LESS STRESS ON MY BODY.
The strategy isn’t sexy. It’s like integrity. It’s what you’re doing when nobody is watching. When you execute your strategy flawlessly, nobody even notices. Brilliant strategists (✌🏼) are often the unsung heroes behind the scenes. If you’re too attached to the outcome, you’re not a strategist. You have to be willing to adapt, learn on the fly, and zig when everyone else’s zagging.
Sometimes your strategy is as simple as “just keep going” “just keep putting on foot in front of the other”
Your ability to execute one step in front of the other requires mental strength to keep going.
If you’re leader boarding, you’re not a leader. You’re following and chasing others.
The most important you need to have influence over is yourself.
That’s the CrossFit version of my CEO Debrief. I would love for you to share your takeaways over on Instagram so I can see your amazing aha moments and cheer you on as you take inspired action from what we talked about today.
If you’re a female business owner and you received some aha’s and insights from this debrief, you may want to join The BRAVE Society. Sorry gents, this one is just for the ladies.
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