Build your best…

Recently a handful of grapplers joined us for some core work the last two Saturday’s at Steelwood (The home of OSU Wrestling). The Saturday workouts are somewhere between 90 – 120 minutes in duration. They’re stupid on purpose. We take advantage of treadmills that incline up to 30% and world class stationary bikes, to do a variety of interval training. We carry heavy dumbbells around and throw heavy balls over our head. We climb ropes to the ceiling and push heavy sleds across the padded floors. The young grapplers are amazing at all this stuff and tend to sing along with whatever rapper or DJ is screaming through the sound system.

However, last week I noticed the room got incredibly quiet when we wandered to the back of the room and hopped up on the long row of bars. Hanging in the chin up position stresses the core. Really stresses it. Hanging in the chin up position and then pulling your legs over your head, touching the bar above you, and turning your two legs into synchronized windshield wipers of sorts and moving them 90% to the left, raising them straight over head, and then moving them 90% to the right, sends most cores into hyperstress and quickly into panic. Try doing 5 wipes before letting go and you’ll experience what I’m trying to convey here. Your obliques will seriously scream. Your transverse abdonimus will stretch and not like it. Your arms, elbows, and shoulders will not go quietly.

Your rotational strength will increase, however – greatly increase, if you focus on form and put yourself, purposely in acute pain.

So, this week, when it came time to hop on the hurting bar, I paid careful attention to one of the elite athletes who struggled, mightily last week. We go in two shifts for thirty second stints on the hurting bar. I made sure to position myself next to my target and alternate time with him. Sure enough his first iteration of wipers were pathetic. His form was terrible and I shamed him for it. I stood right below him and told him to stop flopping like a fish out of water, you have to hold your core at the 90% and control the motion back and forth. You have to control your body.

You have to first control your mind.

So, after shaming the stud, I took my turn on the bar and showed him how to do it with proper form. It really hurt. Good. After my thirty seconds of pain it was his turn again. This time I didn’t shame him. I coached him now that I had his full attention. As he began to flop to the left, I screamed at him to catch his legs before they fell on their own. “Fight it,” I bellowed with belief. As he did so, I simply said, “Good.” He continued with the wiper to the right (not perfectly, but noticeably better) and as he approached 90%, I implored him again with, “Fight it!” His internal focus was written on his hurting face.

And, he did it!

I repeated this process with him throughout the remaining four iterations on the bar and he continued to improve his performance through me simply giving him my undivided attention and coaching him up, so to speak. You see, friend, even the elite need someone to make them do what they can. They can do a lot but not when left alone. We all need someone to coach us up. My favorite quote reflects this truth.

“Our chief want in life, is someone who will make us do what we can.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Your team needs you, leader, to make them do what they can. Model the way. Embrace pain and suffering, and embody truth in love. You can do this but only if you make yourself take the time to give your most precious commodity to your most proficient people. Do not make the mistake of thinking anything is more important than making your best better. Normal leaders focus on all kinds of process, programs, and other very good, professional pieces. Yeah, it all matters. Nothing matters as much as making your best better. You see, friend, a 1% gain from your most proficient performers, produces a performance multiplier. When the best keep getting better, the rest gotta row that much harder to simply keep up. Everybody rises when a system adapts to strength not weakness.

What’s your system adapting to, leader? Are you coaching up your best or paying too much attention to the weak? Every leader gets exactly the team they deserve. Want better? Build your best. Make them do what they can. Good…

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