Comparing Yourself to Others
Written by Zach Erick

Invictus is a very unique gym. The members that participate in our group classes are kinesthetically aware and move well. Our athletes know how to move, mobilize, lift, row, run, etc.  We also know our numbers–always referring to our 1-RM lifts and benchmark workout times (Fran, Jackie, Grace, 2k Row, etc.), and in true Invictus fashion, whenever we PR, we walk up to the whiteboard and proudly write our new number while the Coach obnoxiously rings the PR bell.

Unfortunately, there are some of us in the gym that can’t help but look at the rest of those PRs on the whiteboard and say to ourselves, “Wow…That was nothing compared to (insert name here).” Instead of being happy with our success, we immediately compare ourselves to others. This is a self-destructive mindset and it will cripple you as an athlete. Let me give you an example.

As I mentioned earlier, Invictus is a unique gym. We have a lot of strong women that workout here. Not too long ago I was aiming to hit a 295lb. back squat. At the time that was a very heavy weight for me, so when I finally achieved my goal I was extremely proud of myself–for 5 seconds. I walked on up to that PR board, tore the cap of the marker, wrote down my epic back squat weight, then I looked at the name above me. Nichole (DeHart) 300lb. back squat. I felt like a child who just dropped his freshly scooped ice cream cone on the ground.

My thoughts the rest of the day were extremely negative, even though I had just reached a goal that I had been striving towards for months. I was questioning whether or not I’d ever have a future in the sport as a competitive athlete. It’s times like these where you have to step back and really analyze your goals. There is an article written by Nichole (coincidentally) that I used as an outline a while back when I became an intern at the gym–Tips for Successful Goal Setting and Achievement. When I looked back at what I wrote down, I quickly realized I was acting immature for letting my leg strength affect my mood.

None of my goals (short term and long term) had anything to do with being stronger than somebody else. As a matter of fact, only one of my goals had to do with CrossFit, and that was to make it to the Games before the age that Coach Nuno first competed (29, but he’ll tell you 22). The rest of my goals were related to earning my degree and becoming a better coach, which are way more important to me than being a games competitor. So why was I so devastated when I saw that Nichole could back squat more than I could? Ego.

If you’re the type of person that has to have the fastest time on the board, and is heartbroken when someone else beats you, ask yourself these questions the next time you leave the gym: What do you really want, and are you willing to sacrifice time/money/relationships/personal joy to get it? If you don’t have any intentions competing on the professional level, then why does it matter if somebody beat your time? I understand if you leave a workout upset with yourself because you feel that you could have pushed harder, but if you truly gave everything you had during a workout then there is no reason to second guess your abilities.

I’m sure we have all heard the CrossFit phrase “Leave your ego at the door”, although cliche’ it is very true, especially at our gym. There will always be somebody that’s better than you at something. Since when is CrossFit about beating the person next to you? We’re supposed to be focused on self-fulfillment, and personal growth. If you walk in the gym with a chip on your shoulder with the aim to beat everyone, you’re probably going to leave the gym disappointed. On top of that, the whole concept of being part of a community that supports one another has just totally flown over your head.

Always remember “Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” – John Wooden (#1 UCLA Head Coach Of All Time)

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Ted Stearns
Ted Stearns
September 1, 2013 10:24 pm

Good topic Zach; being driven to be your best is one thing but driven to be “the best” can be wrought with disappointment along the way. As you said, it’s about managing those disappointments.

Mika Ingley
Mika Ingley
September 1, 2013 10:05 pm

good article

Ali Jones
Ali Jones
September 1, 2013 9:17 pm

Great write up Z!!!!!

Nuno Costa
Nuno Costa
September 1, 2013 3:42 pm

We have strong men too Zach 🙂
And please don’t forget i just turned 22…