It doesn’t happen often anymore, but in the past I have failed to achieve a lot of the goals I have set for myself simply because I elevate the goal itself to such mythic proportions that it begins to terrify me. The more mental weight we give to a task we’re trying to achieve, the more effort it will take to reach it.
I believe effort is overrated and innovation is undervalued.
Here’s an example: on June 3 of 2009 I wrote a quick piece about the Secret Service Snatch Test. I had read a book called Enter The Kettlebell and I wanted to pass the SSST as a benchmark. To prove, as it is put, “that I have the right to call myself a man.”
But back then, I ate the shtick up (still do, in some aspects) and became appropriately terrified of the snatch test. How could I not be? It was hard! Everyone knows that it is really hard to snatch a 24 kilo kettlebell 200 times in 10 minutes!
Except it isn’t. But I was in “full effort” mode. Blood and guts. I scoured the internet looking for programs and protocols to help me snatch better. I committed to grueling training sessions over and over, adding a few reps here and there.
I found a way to make it difficult because the book said it was supposed to be difficult.
What a waste of time and effort.
But I did it. I sweated and suffered so much that I finally got my 200 reps, and then what? I became a man! No, just kidding. What happened was that I quit trying for more. I quit trying for higher numbers, even though there were people hitting snatch numbers well above 250. But the book said 200 was a good benchmark, so that was that. I let myself stop.
That’s the example of me creating my own limitation. Maybe it works differently for you. Maybe I’m just crazy. Anyways, I don’t blame the book or the author (I’m still a big fan of Pavel Tsatsouline–he’s been very good to me), I blame me. I let an outside resource decide what I was capable of. What I should shoot for. What my potential should be.
It is so easy to do this to ourselves. We look for standards to meet, when we might instead create our own standards and go much farther than was ever thought possible.
The Secret Service Snatch Test is not hard
I can now hit upwards of 230 any time I try, and I very rarely do snatches anymore. It is not difficult, because I have made it easy. I ignore the programs. I followed my own body and tested everything I did with my body’s own feedback.
Age and bodyweight will definitely make this test more challenging for some. But I have yet to see anyone who could not pass this test if they would just get it out of their head that it’s nearly impossible to do.
It is possible. So are so many of the things that we talk ourselves out of. There is no problem with dreaming big and tackling huge challenges, but I try to make sure that I am the one deciding what difficult means, not taking it on faith. It is so easy to abandon goals if they feel too difficult, but I realize more and more that few things are as difficult as I used to think.
Each new breakthrough someone has, whether it is in the strength world, the sciences, a wonderful book unlike the rest, or whatever else…occurs because someone vaults over someone else and gets better results.
For a time, however brief, they quit listening and try something their own way.
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