Workout of the Day

The Heaviest Weight


Failure is a tricky thing to handle. On the one hand, it is the greatest teacher. It’s a path to improvement, and a necessary part of exploring what’s possible. On the other hand, it can be burdensome and self-perpetuating. Improperly handled, failure begets failure.

One need look no further than the common sports trend of “streaks.” Teams and individuals alike frequently have winning and losing streaks, and the reality is that what separates winning streaks from losing streaks generally isn’t some newly-learned or accidentally forgotten skill, or a particularly effective or detrimental training regimen, it’s the mental side of the game. Go back in your mind to first learning to ride a bicycle. Your first attempt at two-wheeling it likely set the tone for the next attempts. If you take on the first attempt and manage a success, you give yourself a boost of confidence, an “I’ve done this and therefore I can continue to do this” mentality, and you’re left in the lap of continued success -- you’ve got yourself a “winning” streak. If, on the other hand, your first attempt at taking the bike for a solo ride quickly ended with a face-plant and a skinned up knee, your head’s probably not going to be in a place to get back on the bike with confidence and positive momentum. You’re left with negative thoughts running through your head: “last time I tried this, I failed miserably, and therefore I’m likely to fail again,” and this sort of thinking is likely to prove itself true. You’ve got yourself a losing streak.

Renowned sports psychologist Dr. Ken Ravizza is known for using odd methods to help athletes get through mental blocks and optimize their game. In one such case, Ravizza was consulted by a college baseball team facing a below average season start and struggling to turn their season around. One of Ravizza’s tactics in working with the team was to place a miniature toilet in the dugout, which players used to “flush” their mistakes each time they entered, allowing them to approach each at-bat or time on the field with a mindset unclouded by past mistakes or failures. With Ravizza’s help, the team turned the season around to a 32-6 record for the rest of the season.

Working with a college volleyball team, Ravizza called timeout on a scrimmage after a player botched four consecutive passes. Ravizza taped four volleyballs together and asked the team if they would want to play the game with the oddly-shaped mass of balls -- of course, this was a rhetorical request. The point was that the player was dwelling on the last three mistakes, and as such was building up, in her head, a simple pass to be something much more than it actually was.

Whether it’s sports or business or attempting a PR in the gym, the weight of mistakes and failures is something that you can’t afford to carry with you. The intent must be to lift the weight that is in front of you, metaphorical or literal, and not the weight of every past attempt. Accept your failures with grace, learn from them, see what can be changed, and then forget that those failures or mistakes ever happened and enter your next attempt with an unburdened mind.

- PS


  • 50 cal bike test

  • Sled push - 4x100m (AHAP)