Two years ago I listened to an interesting NPR segment comparing (generally) the American educational system (public schools) with the equivalent in several Asian countries (Japan in particular). I found two quotes quite compelling:
“I think that from very early ages we [in America] see struggle as an indicator that you’re just not very smart,” … “All of this matters because the way you conceptualize the act of struggling with something profoundly affects your actual behavior.”
“Obviously if struggle indicates weakness — a lack of intelligence — it makes you feel bad, and so you’re less likely to put up with it. But if struggle indicates strength — an ability to face down the challenges that inevitably occur when you are trying to learn something — you’re more willing to accept it.”
As an athlete, I used to view struggle as an indicator of strength. Not only did I pride myself on that fact, but I also frequently ruminated on the subject. The act of struggle gave purpose to all of the training and racing and allowed for less self-created pressure. (If my only goal was to force myself into a position of struggle, then I was assured of success). But over the past few years I have come to view struggle more as a sign of weakness; a sign that I wasn’t good enough. Gradually, my main goal shifted away from ‘forcing struggle’ and ‘overcoming adversity’ to ‘get through this’ and ‘be careful’. I’ve recently come to realize that operating from a (self-created) position of fear has rendered me exceptionally weak of mind, and lacking confidence.
It is my intention to once again force struggle and overcome adversity. Being aware of the edge is vastly different than being afraid of the edge. It’s time to allow that awareness to elevate my training and racing performance once again. I’m done with weakness. Instead, I will work to cultivate grit and resiliency and operate from a position of strength. Excited to start the 2015 race season in February at the Antelope Canyon 100 mile race put on by Ultra Adventures.
It’s time to be strong. Focused on 2015. Thanks for reading. DC