*This is a blog literally written based on a brief phrase I said during a Open-debrief and thought “Oh hey I should write a blog on this…” and so here we are.
The Tortoise and the Hare
We all know this story. The tortoise races the hare (turtle vs rabbit for those of you that needed the clarification) and the tortoise wins. The maxim is thus born, “Slow and steady wins the race.” The end.
As is the usual case however, through time, the meanings begin to change, like a filter, the things that seem to be most important to our culture tend to be remembered; and the rest forgotten. What began as a focus on ‘slow and steady’, began to transform into, “Don’t rush what you do,” then into, “Slow is ok, because those that rush will mess up,” and finally…”It’s not all about speed.” So let me ask you, did you catch it? Most likely you didn’t. Did you see how even now, the maxim changed right before your eyes, and you likely didn’t catch it? Half of it being forgotten, and the speed aspect of it being the focus? Did you see how although those themes are not wrong, how they’ve cut out half of the story? What began as a “Slow and steady” theme, quickly transformed into a story about only speed. If you’re still lost, let me remind you, that the story is about speed AND consistency. The word “steady” is forgotten. It goes along with our current culture of instant gratification. Flashy speed takes center stage, and the boring consistency portion takes a backseat. Don’t get me wrong, the theme that remains is still a valid one; it’s an important lesson, but it leaves a gaping flaw. Our culture has forgotten what consistent work looks like.
So what are the consequences of something as basic as a childhood parable being boiled down to what’s exciting and not what’s important? To be brutally honest, I’m sure there are some that have never given consistency the time of day; simply jumping from one idea or technique to the next. That may work in some areas of our lives, but not in the most important. Studies have shown that despite being the most digitally connected generation, depression caused by loneliness is abundant. What happens in a society that has even expedited the dating process into a swipe on a screen, because I mean why would you waste your time dating and getting to know somebody? What used to be the most common sense idea of “eating healthy and exercising everyday” has now become a matter of which supplement and machine gets the fastest results. Need to drop ten pounds? Juice cleanse. Need to fit into that suit or dress? Crash diet and bootcamp and then go back to your daily life soon after.
The consistency that it takes to become great at anything is anything but sexy. Which is why I think it is a slap in the face when somebody is referred to as being an “Overnight Success.” Those closest to those ‘overnight success stories’ know of the frustrating nights, the tearful sessions, the long fruitless journey that it took to become that successful. In order to get to the stage where people notice the change you’ve made, years are often spent prior in silence. That was good, let me say it again in a different way...by the time you are praising somebody’s success, they have a whole journey behind them of quiet consistency. (Quick disclaimer: the journey doesn’t need to be some brutal chore, but that is a blog for another day).
So now let's bring this home for our fellow CrossFitters. You ready? I’m going to put on my old football coach hat and lay it on you. With all sugar-coating removed here it is...if you suck right now, you will suck tomorrow. If you suck tomorrow, you will suck the day after that. You are going to consistently suck for a while, as you consistently work at not sucking, you will feel like you won’t ever not suck. If you try a new gimmick and tomorrow you feel like you suddenly don’t suck, it’s a trap, don’t fall for it, you still suck. You will have to suck for a while, and that’s ok. Consider it a filtering system that weeds out the weak-minded. If you allow yourself to suck, and ignore that feeling, and keep working every single day, there will be a time where you look back at your progress and realize how far you’ve come. Ok let’s take the football coach hat off...now why is it so important to understand this brutal reality? Well it’s because we have an entire instant-gratification culture to ignore, every Facebook post showing us shortcuts and every instagram post promoting a shiny new idea. The second we jump at those tricks, and we start chasing gimmicks, we lose our consistency, jumping at one trend after another, then we look back at our journey realizing we wasted time.
Challenge to the Reader
May you remember the importance of consistency. May you look in the mirror and recognize your shortcomings...embrace them. Most importantly embracing that as tough as it may be, consistency overrides everything. May you recognize that going slow or fast means nothing if it is not consistent. May you, wake up every morning, and do your very best, until you can do better, and then do that...every single day.