#211 – The Perfect Problem: Learning to Be Kind To Yourself When You Fail
Barbell Logic has long attracted thinkers, strivers, and a fair number of Type A personalities. “Logic” is in the name, of course, and barbell training in particular demands a sort of consistency and attention to detail that is well-suited to the driven person. Yet these same people often struggle with another problem — the problem of perfectionism — which the barbell community doesn’t exactly help.
We’re barbell nerds. We love physics, programming, and the sundry little details of technique that help us optimize our training. These are the stepping stones on the path to strength, but for some they can be more of a trip hazard. The pursuit of excellence can become the pursuit of perfection, and when they inevitably fall short disappointment pervades. Perfectionism only robs us of the satisfaction of self-improvement and obscures the view of long-term progress; and, as we know, strength training is playing the long game.
Or, as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it more eloquently in his essay Self-Reliance:
“If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not ‘studying a profession,’ for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances.”
Also, listen to Brett’s recent podcast with legendary boxing trainer Teddy Atlas on his idea of what it means to be a man: https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/teddy-atlas-boxing-trainer-interview/
Have a question about training? Send a question to Matt and Scott! Email us at email@example.com and we’ll answer your question on an upcoming Saturday Q&A!