Wishing You Bad Luck
A couple of weeks ago, the Star Tribune ran an article in the opinion section that resonated with me. It was about a commencement speech given by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts to his son’s 9th grade class. His son is attending an all boys boarding school on the east coast and the speech was wishing them “bad luck.”
Roberts reminded the kids that just a few years ago they were most likely scared when they got dropped off at their new school. Now, years later, they have good friends, great memories, and a solid foundation. He brought to their attention the fact that they have accomplished a lot within the last couple of years. But instead of the typical good luck in the future speech, he went on to wish them adversity and bad luck, reminding us all that building character is really where it is at.
He talked about how succeeding at everything isn’t the point, rather learning from our failures, hardships and potential betrayals is needed to be contributing members of society. To suffer lose and to struggle helps us to be more honorable and better people.
You’ve probably already made the connection I’m going to make, but here goes…
At our studio, yes, we work out, move well, have fun, lift heavy things, get our heart rate up, etc. There has to be a fun factor to keep us motivated and coming back. (I’m big on that one!) But along with that, we have to consider the opportunity cost associated with our different pursuits. Are we going for the quick and easy fix or what feels good? Do we believe we’re going to lose 20 lbs in the promised 10 weeks? Do we think that we should be pain free after 1 session? Do we avoid modalities after trying something once or twice because it made us feel less than perfect? This thinking only sets us up for failure and disappointment.
Per Roberts, we are best served by being willing to fail and be uncomfortable. This includes being willing to put ourselves in situations that we may feel ill at ease, putting our ego aside, making way for growth.
When we embark on different physical pursuits or health and fitness goals, we often don’t think ahead enough to wonder whether we are taking a long term, sustainable approach, or, taking the “easy” road. But we need to remember that we, as humans, are wired to take the easy approach. Who wants to sign up for the hard stuff? Struggling isn’t our first choice, but quite often, it is the best for us in the long run. Doing stuff that we aren’t really all that comfortable with, or aren’t all that good at, or don’t quite have the full understanding of, helps us foster our humility and compassion with ourselves and others. We don’t judge others when they aren’t coordinated or knowledgeable about their particular movement or pursuit. So why should we be that hard on ourselves when we put ourselves in a vulnerable position? It is admirable to move as a small child would: exploring, getting dirty, being a bit uncomfortable with the unfamiliar, and above all else, learning.
I’m not suggesting you go out and do extreme sports or scary things. Instead I’m suggesting we try something out of our emotional comfort zone. We can all benefit by putting ourselves out there. I can personally attest to feeling that I should be able to learn new physical feats as quickly as possible. After all, I’m a fitness professional. I should pick up on things easily. Sadly for me, not always the case. I vividly remember learning a clean and jerk and being very frustrated. Or a golf swing! How about surfing! That one never came to fruition. Oh, and there is the first time I tried Gyrokinesis, pickle ball, and soccer. I was very aware of the fact that I needed to work hard not to feel embarrassed , frustrated or disappointed with myself. My goal is to try to get better and enjoy the process. I’m not saying I necessarily succeeded at not being embarrassed and frustrated. I’m not above self shame. But at the very least, I can try to be aware of how much my ego plays into the mix.
Roberts finished his speech advising the kids to write notes to people in their lives that they notice are making a difference for themselves or others. Having the discipline to do this once a week will make them feel good as well as the recipient being appreciated. By putting themselves out there, again, being vulnerable, he encouraged them to enhance their life with such gestures.
So what have you done lately that challenges your ego? Makes you feel a bit vulnerable? Unabashedly encouraged others? Dancing, moving, being a dork, all for the sake of making yourself more open to those around you so that you let go of the ego and embrace life, I believe is the key to staying young. Fear of looking or feeling silly is powerful, but humility and self deprecation win in my book.