GCSES….not really a problem set in my journey. I achieved A*s, As, Bs and some Cs. Without really trying, I got what I needed to sit the A-Levels that I wanted.
A-Levels….nearly failed to achieve anything, had to drop out of Chemistry, pretty much failed German and Maths (Half A-Levels) and bombed out in a subject I should have smashed, “Computing”. Biology was my only saving grace with a “C”, I think.
By pure fluke it was just enough to get me in to Aberystwyth University for Genetics. I suspect this more by luck and the fact noone else wanted the course place rather than anything I did.
Degree….BSC(Hons) Genetics. Scraped through first year, scraped second year, almost had to resit the year, and if it wasn’t for my dissertation I would have failed the third year and the whole course.
Sandhurst (yes, I joined the Army before leaving and joining the Royal Marines)….not exactly the challenge I thought it would be but I would hate to see my reports; I suspect I know what they would say, “He applies just enough effort to get through and nothing more.”
Athletics….I clocked an 11sec 100m sprint at age 17. Was I ever going to be a decent national-level sprinter, no. Should I have applied myself to see just how far I could have gone? Yes. I gave just enough effort to win a few races before coming up against better opposition and then giving up.
Education, sports, driving tests, military courses, special events…..whenever I am asked to apply myself I am that man who gives just enough to squeak by and nothing more. Often, I fail first time around and have to retest before passing.
What is it that makes me that person? Why have I never felt truly compelled to push myself to see just how good I could have been / could be? It’s not as if things have ever come easy for me. Struggles abound throughout my childhood across the full range of young life experiences. Each time, I gave just enough to get across the line before finding something else to focus on.
I began thinking about this today after clocking a 11:21sec time for the CrossFit WOD “Helen” (3RFT: 400m Run, 21 KB Swings and 21 Pull Ups). This is a backward step compared to the previous score of 10:53sec but is, on average, another sign of the plateau that I’ve been on for the best part of 18 months. Once again, during the WOD, I found myself pushing myself “just enough” to know I was ‘working’ but nothing more than that. Being totally honest, I have not really pushed myself at all since leaving Afghanistan and CrossFit Leatherneck where this all began. Without rugby in my life, I honestly, deeply and definitely “thought” this was what I needed in my life to push me and find that “spark”. It might have been in the very beginning and I opened CrossFit Keelhaul to keep it alive but very quickly it died away. I reverted to type and used the excuse that I was coaching others to stop pushing myself as hard as I could. Sure enough, I hit a plateau and I’ve not moved since.
As a coach, I know the problem almost immediately. My goals are in no way ‘Relevant’ (SMART) to my life and I therefore cannot truly relate to them and find genuine motivation. The trouble is, it would appear that nothing ever has either. With the exception of self-preservation, I cannot muster the motivation and determination to truly excel in anything. I really do want to excel in sport. I want CrossFit to be that sport but I find excuses not to do WODs or to not try as hard as I should. The CrossFit community have a great word for the type of person that can dig deep and find those hidden depths, “Fire Breather”. They push themselves to the limit in the pursuit of a goal. I live in envy of that kind of person. I am jealous of the person who knows that their goal is, what their role is, what their entire purpose for being here is. I often feel that I am lost and without a path. I do just enough to keep on the path of least resistance by being slightly ‘above average’ but that’s all.
So what do I do? For all of you out there who “breathe fire”, what motivates you? How do you do it? What is that spark that some of us just don’t have?
Again, as a coach, I believe I can help find those things in others but not being able to do it with myself makes me doubt myself as a coach too.