How do you measure success? Is it by how much money you make per year? Heaviest one rep max? Being able to perform muscle ups or double unders for days? Those are all real successes, but they are the result of many other “smaller” successes made along the way. Before I move on, I want to give you a little background of the motivation of this article, but it starts at a pretty unlikely place.
A few weekends ago, as I was sitting in a banquet center listening to my mother give my grandfather’s eulogy, she talked about this poem by Linda Ellis called The Dash. An excerpt that stuck with me was this:
“I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral for a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end. He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke the following date in tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between the years. For that dash represents all the time that they spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth. For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house…the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.”
Over the course of the week following my grandfather’s memorial, I began thinking deeper on the meaning of the poem. Success isn’t something that just happens or is stumbled upon miraculously. It is the tip of the iceberg built on a foundation of the countless hours put in and achievements that have been made along the way.
The same sentiment should be related to the gym and our successes at Worthy. A 1RM is the visible representation of every single rep made before it, grueling or effortless. Every rep completed before that one served as a stepping-stone to your current level, adding more worth to the dash. Too frequently I hear, “my 1RM is only 10 lbs. heavier than my 3 or 5 RM, but I guess that’s good,” a couple things immediately come to mind. One, that’s not just “good”, that’s freaking amazing! Two, look at the athlete you were then compared to the athlete you are now. Just because you haven’t set a new 1RM does not mean you haven’t gotten any stronger, better, healthier, faster, or shown any other kind of improvements along the way.
We often measure our progress and success in CrossFit by how much we can lift, how fast our Fran time is, or if we’re doing a workout prescribed or scaled. But with that, we also often look over all the day-to-day successes that eventually build up to those.
Your first PR’s might have been minuscule in weight compared to your current PR’s; that’s not what should matter. What should matter are the smaller PR’s that are made during the journey as a result of the relentless effort you put forth. So next time you start having any doubts in your progress from start to finish, or you feel like you haven’t gotten any stronger, faster, healthier, whatever the case may be, don’t pride yourself on the numbers. Look at the dash lying between the two numbers and remember everything that went into that, and pride yourself on the journey you’ve taken, and the journey that is still waiting to be taken.