During last week I happened to watch a video posted on YouTube of Russian Cross-fit athletes in action at a major competition. Now I, personally, do not necessarily gravitate towards Crossfit, but I did watch this video in awe. I do, in fact, often watch in awe when I witness any top level athlete doing their thing. It is not only what the athlete can do on the screen which does it for me, but the process and the journey that they have undertaken in order to get to where they are. Anyone who has ever seen the home videos of champion cyclist Anna Meares doing a 235kg single leg press and 110cm box jumps can appreciate this journey. But more than anything else what does it for me is the look in their eye as they compete – that resolution, that focus… that hunger. (Note – I have included links for both videos below).
How do people get to become so awesome? Simple answer – they train, and for anyone else looking to achieve great things, herein lies the answer to that burning question you have – how do I do it?
Now, it is easy to separate oneself from the achievements of athletes by placing them in a separate category – like demigods born into their ascendant state and therefore an unrealistic example for a mere mortal to aspire to. Likewise, it is tempting to tell yourself that the physical journey an athlete goes through, fine tuning their body, is a different process to the mental, emotional and professional process a person goes through who is pursuing something great outside of sports.
But one errs to dismiss so simplistically what it takes to achieve greatness, whether physical or otherwise. Regardless of genetics or social circumstances or anything else very few people get to the top without hard work (and if they do they are quickly found out as imposters). A Buddhist saying goes “There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy.” Wellness and performance (i.e. achieving your own brand of greatness) go hand-in-hand because they both involve shunning the easy road. To be well we need to train our bodies and our minds to be strong and resilient, through exercise, good nutrition, proper rest and recovery, and lifestyle balance. It is a lifelong commitment which often involves willpower, sacrifice, routine and equally, self awareness and shrewdness to know when to push hard and when to rest, what battles to fight and which ones you should leave. This builds the physical and mental capabilities and the emotional stability which underwrites the pursuit of greatness – the habits of lifetime wellness are the habits of high performance. Like the athlete, awesome people do not take the easy, nice, pampered route, they incur discomfort, stress and pain but in a managed, incremental, well formulated way, and they emerge ascendant.