The Backbone of Progress

22 Dec

Today’s topic of discussion: The Backbone of Progress

But before we get to it, if you haven’t already: Click here and register for the free webinar I’m hosting on December 28. The topic is Prepare to Compete and I’ll be speaking about a training tool that’s essential for comp prep in 2023.

Last week I spoke about progress. In the post-script, I made mention of something that had been left out in the conversation. I called it the “backbone” of progress. So today, I will reveal what I meant by that and let you decide if you believe it to be the actual “backbone” of progress, as I do. 

The “backbone” of progress can be defined as the following:

You have to look like a fool in the short-term to become a king in the long-term.

Said another way,

  • Incompetence precedes competence. 
  • First-order negative, second-order positive.
  • Short-term pain for long-term gain.

Progress requires a struggle. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. And when we struggle, we place ourselves in a position to fail and fall short many times over. This is the challenge we must face to gain progress.

Seth Godin has a fantastic definition of learning that applies perfectly to progress (I view learning and progress synonymously):

“Learning is serial incompetence on our way to getting better.”

He’s asking us, do we care enough about making progress such that we are willing to look incompetent in the short-term?

And the only way we progress and learn is by doing.

Doing the work, failing, learning, upgrading, progressing, repeating…

Another term that you might have seen in the mainstream, which ties in nicely here, is delayed gratification. Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, was a popular resource for bringing to light this term and unveiling a truth behind Epictetus stoic proverb, 

“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”

This is why delayed gratification is one of the Crafted Competitor Tenets. It speaks to a truth inherent to the human condition: 

The decisions we make each day have a ripple effect on our lives.

Part of us wants to seek comfort and pleasure as a means of escape from the challenges we face; escape from the hard work that doesn’t pay off immediately; escape from the possibility of looking temporarily foolish.

And this places us at the fork in the road with the true test lying before us:

Can we delay the gratification we instinctively seek? Can we accept the possibility of short-term failure for long-term success?

We must slog through our blunders before we can dance on the edges of our mastery.

We must continually grapple with this struggle when it comes to making progress. 

And if it matters enough to you, you will allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to do it.

The Crafting Fitness Podcast

Episode 8: In-Season Anaerobic Training for the CrossFit Athlete 

In this week’s episode, Mike and I discuss In-Season Anaerobic Training for the CrossFit Athlete. (We refer to it as pain training throughout the episode)

This is part 3 of our 3 part series on In-Season Training for the Crossfit Athlete. 

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How we define “pain” training
  • Why perform “pain” training
  • How “pain” training differs from the in-season vs. the off-season
  • Considerations when designing “pain” training
  • Length of use and structuring of “pain” training

Click here to give it a listen.

Please help us out by rating and sharing a review on the podcast app. Thanks!

One last thing before I go. We’re currently offering your first month of individual design remote coaching for free. If you or someone you know has been thinking about hiring a coach then please share this link with them to learn more: 

Happy holidays, 

Coach Sam Smith

CrossFit® is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc. Big Dawgs' uses of the CROSSFIT® mark are not endorsed by nor approved by CrossFit, Inc., and Big Dawgs is in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by CrossFit, Inc.

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