Don’t Let the Whiteboard Define You

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Don't Let the Whiteboard Define You

The whiteboard is such an obnoxious thing we do in CrossFit, right? This little tap on your shoulder telling you to go harder so you can beat Janet’s Fran time or Tom ’s front squat. It’s annoying, isn’t it? This daily reminder of what you could’ve done because, odds are, you’re like the rest of the world and don’t red line every single workout. It’s like your nagging mom or disappointed dad assessing your WOD.

This is the self talk so many of us have in the gym. It’s constant. It raises so many feelings of inadequacy, like our workouts pale in comparison to anyone else’s and we’re somehow failures.

Stop and think about that for a second. We feel like failures because of the results of a WOD. Instead of leaving our box feeling empowered, we feel defeated because our best didn’t measure up to someone else’s best.

Competition vs. Comparison

Competition vs. Comparison
When I was training for a half marathon a couple of years ago, my friend, a seasoned marathon pro, told me, “There will always be someone faster, and there will always be someone slower. Just run your race.” This is the reality of the whiteboard and the important distinction between competition and comparison.
The pursuit of beating everyone in your box is a battle without end. Because as soon as you’re at the top, there will be another box… then another… then another. You might as well be on a hamster wheel.

The whiteboard is a tool. It cannot tell you anything about your life other than the basic numbers of a WOD.
Let me give you an image of what the end game of this relentless pursuit looks like down the road. Wright Thompson of ESPN wrote a haunting description of Michael Jordan’s life after basketball. He seems so miserable, unable to test his now faded abilities against the best. Watching his aura of invincibility fade, he’s not aging gracefully. He’s raging against the fact that he’s aging at all, losing the competitive ability that made him the greatest of all time.

It’s an odd thing we do to ourselves, taking this one aspect of our God-given lives to use as a litmus test for measuring what kind of people we are. Just getting to the gym might have been an overwhelming battle for you the day you posted your worst Fran time. Your child vomited in the car. You had a fight with your spouse. Your boss said you had to work over the weekend. All these things can affect our performance, but we get hung up on our place on the whiteboard because that’s what everyone else will see. This is is how I will be assessed as a person.

How silly is this?

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