The mental game

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. I really like people. At least the cool ones.
It’s also trite but true that you get out of things what you put into them. This is definitely true in CrossFit – the harder you push that intensity, the better the results.
Same could be said of friendships; or even most relationships. A while ago I wrote a post about what I look for in a relationship … any relationship. I’ve been so focused on my work these last few months that if I care enough to spend time with you, I sure as heck want that to be quality time. Not that the people I haven’t seen in ages mean any less to me … it’s kind of complicated. I should call some people.
Anyway. This week I was lucky enough to see one of my absolute favourite people in the Wi-Fi space on Thursday night, followed up by meeting a very VERY cool girl who I hope may become an addition to my stable of close friends.
I was re-reading the post I wrote ages back, and it’s mostly still accurate.
I want to surround myself with people who can carry on interesting conversations. People who have similarly high aspirations to my own, who push me and stretch me, and question me, and don’t let me get away with cop outs (although let’s face it, if you’re going to avoid something you’re going to avoid it!).
There is an appropriate mix of driven selfishness that makes you interesting to me, but when you do care, don’t pretend to care. Actually care. None of this polite smiling then sniping behind peoples’ backs. OK, wait, I do do that too. Shoot.
But there are better people out there than I. People who spend hours helping other people with no specific guarantee of reward. People who get out of their own head to go hug their brother before the final event of the competition. People who actually get emotionally involved at the plight of the beggars.
Someone once said I’m nice but dangerous. I think sometimes that I’m a strange combination of soft and hard. I’m pretty much a softie, unless you’ve annoyed me, or attacked me, or unless I’m going for the jugular. In that case, beast mode on, all bets are off. (running in anger, I suppose)
Why am I blathering on about this? Because everything in life is about the people. You want to sell Wi-Fi? You need people. Especially, to move up the value chain and do interesting things, you need partners and you need to know how to talk to partners and answer the what’s in it for them question.
I’m not saying I don’t also have an altruistic streak, because I do. But there is a part of me, as I said above, that is definitely an attention whore. I wouldn’t want to be so famous that I had to worry about every person meeting me just wanting to be associated with an image of me. But in a small way, this may already be the case. It’s kinda like chauvinism; it might be there but I choose not to see it, so it may as well not be. It’s all in the head.
I was not feeling myself from last Saturday through Tuesday. Just head not in the right place. Mentally tired; physically tired, even to the point where I skipped a training session. CNS meltdown as a result of too high of ambient stress.
Like when you’re sick and then you forget what it feels like to be well, but you do vaguely remember that there is a time when you just feel normal; that’s what this was like. Yeah, I can vaguely remember having energy and enthusiasm. I was also affected more than I realised by some pretty incisive comments by Jeff, making me question just why I was doing all this, anyway.
Back to basics. Doing it for me, to learn. I’m achieving that. Don’t need to be resentful of other things along the way; just be grateful. And I am. My life is amazing. Like really amazing.
So what’s up with the mental game? Well at Saturday gym I watched Grant fail his 107kg snatch over, and over, and over, and over. The boy had the lift. He was under the bar; not quite solid maybe … but it was so frustrating to watch him. His head wasn’t in the game. Somehow this had the opposite impact on me and once I remembered that success in a move is more mind than body all of a sudden my snatch balances came together, and my overhead squat with it.
I’m at a point in my training cycle now where you should be missing some lifts. If you’re not, it means you’re being too conservative with the weights. So my deficit handstand pushups were … challenging. And I did miss some reps. And the overhead squats aren’t as pretty when the weights get heavy; it’s stubbornness that makes the lift not necessarily perfect technique.
So what? So I’m happy that I’m not playing it safe with the weights, but a part of me still feels like I failed when I miss reps. The curse of the Type A personality is that I cannot be perfect, I cannot do everything at once, I must delegate and deal with the lack of control issues that result. Just means I need a good team around me; the sort I want anyway, where we are stronger together than we are apart.
But frustration abounds, nonetheless, of course. I can actually feel the instability in my shoulder and I don’t like it. I don’t like how slow the rotator cuff is to heal. I want to get back on those rings and practice bar muscle ups … but I can’t. It’s so frustrating, but I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.
We’ve been having all sorts of fun things in the programme like this one: 2x max duration weighted plank hold. So you put a weight on your back; go into a plank position … and hold it as long as you can. The problem with this? It starts to hurt eventually, after about one minute, and you kind of have to decide how long you are going to hold it. And it’s empowering at the same time as it’s not; because if you held it for 2 minutes you probably could have held it for 2:10, and so on.
There is no perfect. But hell. The CrossFit is so empowering to decide you’re going to do something and then go do it. It’s not about ‘my warmup is your workout.’ It’s not even about the competition; the competition is just there to make you push yourself harder. And this is why competitors have a bond that is the same type of bond that CEOs have (as I’ve now discovered).
There’s a certain intensity of presence in a moment and focus on outcome that is so intense it’s almost blinding. It can be; actually. You can’t understand unless you’ve felt it. Was watching an old CrossFit Games video where Spealler is saying how there’s of course an intensity to competition but there’s also this sense of calm where everything suddenly gets quiet, and slows down. I’ve felt this, and it’s intense: the presence in that moment. The same sort of thing you hope or strive for in the rest of your life, where you’re so focused on the person in front of you that you do not want even to look at your smart phone.
It takes a mental strength, or a courage, to do things that scare us. To walk out on that floor, to do Fran, to go for a max lift, to call a difficult customer, to take the advice of your girlfriends when they want you to do something you know you must but don’t want to do.
So we’re all of us insecure and afraid of things. Failure, rejection, losing, whatever. This is why it’s better to laugh at yourself and control the conversation than wait for others to laugh at you. And they will talk behind your back, but screw it anyway; you can’t live life under the sheets of your bed being worried about what might happen.
Or so you think until the guy you buy your vegetables from has his arm in a sling because he was robbed and stabbed. And your new friend tells you that the worst thing isn’t a bad Fran time or losing a customer or having to make tough painful decisions involving people, but it’s losing a limb, or getting raped, or dying young.
Maybe I’ll be a Joan of Arc on my mission to make public Wi-Fi good, reliable, free, and secure (here’s a hint: the business models of the future don’t rely on selling throttled internet access). That’s actually only the beginning. Maybe I’m tilting at windmills but if you have any sense of what the future holds and you don’t skate to where the puck is moving, you’re not playing the game right.
Better to be crucified but at least try. I learned some new things this week that make me very, very scared. It’s an interesting and dangerous time for digital privacy and radio frequency air rights, and location-based advertising. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things, and some of what I am seeing scares me more than a little.
If shaking trees doesn’t get me what I want, it’s going to be time to break out the axe. Bring a little knowledge to the fore, and see what happens then.
In two weeks I’m taking a weekend off and going up north to see the flowers, and some friends. I can use the rest for my brain and my body.
I have a feeling I’m going to need it.
  • “Overhead squats! I should really come watch you train; to observe all the different kinds of tension-causing activities.” – Byron
  • “He said: ‘Why do I need to wait for five more people?’ They had to hold the mast in place.” – Rudolph (Africa.)
  • “Next thing is I’m going to have words with —. Except I can’t do that yet because one of them’s in the hospital. And I didn’t send him there.” – Ellie
  • “Be warned. It’s not a nice face.” – Stefan
  • “You probably already thought of that, huh?” – Rob
  • “So I’m not a random!” – Rob (definitely not)
  • “One thing is clear. We’re going into uncharted territory here.” – David
  • “Well I like him because he replies to my mails.” – Tim
  • “I must have missed something. Well obviously I missed something.” – Stefan
  • “It’s an essential part of training.” “What? Chocolate?” “Snatching.” – Richie & Ellie
  • “I’m starting to wish I didn’t have so much respect for you.” – Jeff
  • “Trust me. I may be impatient. But I’m also realistic.” – Ellie
  • “He should be informed before playing.” – Cedric

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