What is it that allows a person to complete an unimaginable feat, such as lifting a car to free someone trapped underneath, lift 1000lbs or to fight off an attacker twice your size? It all comes down to one things, mindset. Of course there are physiological processes and hormones that physically power these actions. But what lies behind these processes, what is their driving force? Desire, this is the great power that propels human action and allows us to cross into the incredible. You must want something so badly that you will give your all, muster every fiber of your being into action and use every ounce of your will to accomplish the desired task. Your thought process when facing with a conflict, when heading into a meeting with your boss, before a competition and every time you step up to the bar or swing a kettlebell – will decide whether you are successful or not. Mindset is what is going to make the difference for me this weekend during the Agatsu Level 2 Kettlebell Certification.
When I coach people in the physical realm, I am constantly trying to push people to discover their potential and further their limits. I always encourage people to try new movements, to use heavier weights and to test themselves both physically and mentally. When prompted to pick up a heavier bell, whether someone is going to be successful or not is reflected within the first few seconds of my suggestion. Often it is written all over their face and through their body language. It is very easy to psych yourself out before even attempting something. You need to have faith in your abilities and actually believe you can accomplish something to get the job done. Now this doesn’t mean that because I ‘believe’ that I can deadlift a car that I will automatically do it, but you get the idea here. How we approach a task will greatly impact the end result. If we don’t believe we can accomplish something, even a little bit, we don’t have a chance in hell. As Sara-Clare reminded me yesterday, no one ever went to war thinking there were going to lose.
Mindset has been a subject of much thought for me as I approach this weekend. I have played with meditation and visualization a little bit in the past and have seen the effects these can have. I have seen the benefits of building a positive mindset in athletes that I have helped prepare for important try-outs or events. I have reflected on my own state of mind heading into the few kettlebell sport competitions I have participated in recently;, and found that something was not quite right in terms of how I was approaching these events. This certification has been the focus of my training for the past six months and even before that point for a couple of months prior to the New Year I had shifted my focus to general strength training. Despite being focused on the level 2, I competed in December, April and May not being fully prepared (or feeling that way at the time). It was a strange experience to go to a Kettlebell competition not feeling prepared, see many familiar faces and talk to all of the athletes about their training and how they felt. The performances I put in were far from my personal bests, but were good nonetheless. Despite knowing the reality of my circumstances, I was never satisfied though. I found myself telling people stories about what I was focused on in my training at the moment and making excuses, knowing that had I been fully dedicated to sport training I would have done better. I know that am perfectionist and expect the best of myself, and it is hard to put forth an effort knowing you could have done better.
The real ‘mindset’ alarm went off for me in the last competition two weeks ago in Ottawa on May 27th. I felt a little flat on the platform and ended up putting the kettlebell down with 131 reps in about 7:30 of the 10:00. I was more prepared for this one then the other two competitions I had previously done, but when it was time to snatch the bell, the desire to push myself to the brink wasn’t there. I probably could have lasted the full time had I really pushed myself and cranked out some emergency reps on each arm. I didn’t like the feeling that way on the platform. I realized I needed to change my mindset and get fierce about what I was doing. If I came into the level 2 with the same feeling it would be over before it began. This was a positive moment and I have thought of that feeling often in the past couple of weeks, knowing I must increase my desire, start sharpening my mental tools and preparing myself to go into battle.
I said this during my first post, but there have been entire certification courses where no one passed. I know many people that have taken the level 2. Some have passed, many have not. Of those that have not passed, few that I know personally have gone back and completed it (yet!). If you fail to hit 75% overall during the certification, you are given 1 year to complete the skills needed to hit the passing mark. Knowing this, it could be easy to go into the weekend thinking that the outcome does not matter, because if you screw up or fail, you have a year to keep pushing and hit the mark. While this may be a consolation, this is a defeatist mindset. If you walk in thinking this way, once again the test is over before it began. It is also easy to do the math. 7 skills, 75% needed overall. Each is worth 14.3% total. I know where my strengths lie and which skills are going to be tough for me. I have done this math many times in the past couple of weeks. Running the numbers and starting to negotiate with yourself is not the best road to take though. It is only going to lead you to a place where you have already accepted failure as an outcome. The mindset needs to be strong and you need to believe that you are going to do this. You are going to give it your all and you are going to pass.
A further boost of mental support came Monday from my coach Sara-Clare. I had already been trying to get my mind right and Sara has been in my ear all week with additional support and encouragement. On Monday she delivered a very powerful piece of mental ammunition. She talked to me about how much stronger love is than fear. It is love that allows a mother to lift a car and free her trapped child, it is love that supercharges our desire and allows us to be the best people that we can be. She told me to go home that night and think of ten people who, if falling off the side of a building or cliff and I reached out my hand and grabbed them, I would not let them go. It is the power that comes with the love for those that matters most that I must channel into effort this weekend. This is my plan. It is time to go to war. I must perform at a level I have never performed at, be stronger than I ever have been in my life. I must be fierce. There can be no doubt left in my mind, no exits. This is what life is all about and I am thankful for the opportunity to test myself and ultimately grow through this experience. I am going to do this.
I would like to take a moment to thank Sara-Clare for all of her amazing coaching, her generosity with her time and her continual support. I would not have improved as much as I did over the past six months without her assistance. I would also like to that Shawn and all of the other members of the Agatsu Family that have provided support, encouragement and advice along the way. I would also like to that all those that read these posts and provided me feedback and encouragement. I did not post as often as I had originally intended nor did I provide as much specific exercise advice as I promised. I hope these have been worth the read. I will be back next week with some thoughts and reflections after the cert and for those thinking of this next year I will write a post for each skill with exercises I found most helpful along the way. Until next time, be fierce, kick some ass and have fun.