Poke the Bear

To derive yourself from your memories comes with great limitations, but to derive yourself from a place of possibility is limitless.

Anyone nervous/excited about The CrossFit Open?! Same. Glad we’re on the same page. Lately, it’s got me thinking about the shared struggle in our community of CrossFitters. We all have that one thing that we’d kill to be better at-- double-unders, squatting, muscle ups, or burpees. They induce a knot sensation in our stomach when we check our SugarWod app and we pray we survive them without feeling like Satan has a lighter on your insides. For me, it’s anything bodyweight or more than 3 minutes of work. Yet, we still show up. Day in and day out, we show up. But how do we make those big scary weaknesses that feel manageable? Conquerable? Or for some of us, how do we change the knot in our stomach into a rush of excitement when we see a “weak movement” programmed a bazillion times in today’s class WOD?

We poke the freaking bear.


Hang with me. If we challenge those boundaries, we open ourselves up for possibility, expansion, growth, newness. What that feels like is scary; it feels damaging to the ego, and more akin to public nudity as we expose ourselves to change. Vulnerability isn’t for the faint of heart. For some, this feeling might lead us to rush to explain why we just messed up before our coach can actually coach us. It might manifest physically in frustration and the emotions on our face. Hell, we might even cry (🙋🏻 guilty). In those moments, we feel our chest get a little tight and our face flush with the red hue of embarrassment, yet that is the moment where we can take a deep breath and we find the second to breathe and realize that we get credit here.

This is where the bear comes in. We get credit for poking the bear. Confronting our issues is hard at times, but it is oh so rewarding. In this space, we get credit for trying. We get credit for effort, every, single time. We get credit for giving a damn. This then becomes the place where we have to come to grips with trust. Trust in our coaches, trust in the process. Couple that with patience and we are on the path to something beautiful. (Side note: Patience is not my forte, but the daily vitamin I’m learning to love.)

Over the past 3 months, due to injury and some bad luck, I’ve had time to find steps that enable me to focus on what I could control so I could further attack my weakness. This is not a one and done thing, but rather one that must involve unwavering, daily consistency.  Some examples of things I’ve done are:

  • Buying The 5-Minute Journal
  • Spending 30 minutes to an 1 hr on my weaknesses, AKA anything aerobic.
    (For most of you this could be the Open Prep Auxiliary that is on the board daily. If time is a rare commodity remember, 5-10 minutes a day will still bring you gainz. Keep in mind, all avalanches are made up of tiny snowflakes!)
  • Immediately doing some form of stretching post WOD
  • Setting a night time/daily routine. Like limiting caffeine and shutting off my phone 30 minutes- 1 hr before bed to make sure I’m getting enough quality sleep.
  • Hiring a Nutrition Coach
  • Listening to Mindset podcasts

If you’re still not sure where to start, first examine the narrative you have about your weakness. What is the story you tell yourself? Does it sound like “I can’t do insert skill here” or rather “I’m not there yet, but getting closer!” Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? This narrative we create for ourselves is the most important story we tell in our lives, in and outside of the gym. Here’s the kicker: If we never push our boundaries (fixed mindset), then we stay correct in those beliefs. We can stand utterly correct in the midst of some serious self doubt and unbelief in ourselves. The barriers keeping us from our goals will continue to be as big and strong as they ever were. But are we trying to be right or trying to be better?


Another fact about our journey, is that our truth ends at the extent of our experiences. So how do we extend that boundary to get past certain walls that we’re up against? Usually, the answer is to think of something that would make yourself really uncomfortable and just do it! If you've never opened with a big set, today is the day. On the other hand, if you've always gone 0-100mph immediately, today you are going to slow down and move steady. Do you always fall out on the floor as soon as the coach counts down the time? Well today, you get to take 3 breaths, remain standing, and repeat a lightweight movement or body weight movement you’re not the best at (Think PVC anything, burpees, squats, etc. Repeated summoning of the will to do 30-60 seconds of a dreaded movement at the end of a workout will feel like shit, but imagine how much you will profit from building this much fortitude…). This is your 1% opportunity. Lean into the discomfort. Ben Bergeron said it best- “Only when it starts to get difficult does it start to count.” It’s not glitzy, I mean hell, you’re gonna be covered in sweat and might even drool on yourself, but now you’re poking the bear.

When we start to fine-tune our definition of success by quality of effort and quality of intention, then we start to bring about the 1% change, and every day just that 1% starts to have a compounded effect (Google: Kaizen self improvement). Don’t be afraid to test yourself. For many of us in the gym, that is and should be The CrossFit Open. 😉

This journey can feel really hard and lonely sometimes, but the truth is you’re never actually alone. Coaches and fellow athletes are here to help you. Each and every single one of us have goals or ambitions that we want to attack and accomplish. Everyone feels scared about reaching for something outside of their comfort zone, but then again, that’s why we're here-- to sweat together, laugh together, and to be better than the day before. Take comfort in the fact that we’re all doing this together. This is YOUR community, this is where YOU belong. It might be handstand push-ups, it might be double-unders, or maybe even swimming, but whatever your pursuit is, we’re in this together. Not one of us has a goal that is less valuable than anyone else's-- your goal is just different. Plain and simple.

So go get your stick. And Go. Poke. The. Bear.


Coach Taylor