One thing that I hold dear to my heart is this: We’re always getting better. Regardless of what we’re working on, there is always the opportunity to improve. Here’s another tenant I hold close: We don’t have to celebrate every goddamn time we get better.
It’s often that I see the that improvement and celebration go hand in hand. Improvement is great, and we should all strive for it. But celebration? It’s meaningful, but not mandatory. Let me tell you a little story about where I’m coming from.
A few weeks ago, I was in the Dragon Lair at MFF with one of our bad-ass Ninjas, Bethany. She’s a dancer, choreographer, college professor, and overall badass. Learning a new program, she used a 15lb barbell with 10lb plates on each side. 35lb pounds made for great press practice, but it wasn’t much of a challenge. Bethany is stronger than that. During her next workout, while she was setting up, I slipped a 45lb bar into the rack. She took her warm-up set, said it felt great, and then we grabbed 2.5lb plates to bring it up to 50lbs. Each rep looked strong, and I let her know that she was pressing 15lbs more than last time.
I can honestly say, Bethany didn’t seem all that excited. No big celebration, no tweeting of “#PR #BEASTMODE” or anything else remostely similar. She giggled, smiled, and got ready for her next set. The relatively reserved physical reaction was matched with an obvious emotional one. I literally watched her look at the bar and think, “Okay, now this is normal.” It was a thing of beauty.
We talked after her sets were done, and I reminded Bethany that she did in fact do something pretty bad ass. In response she said, and I paraphrase, “I know. And I’m still hungry.”
That was it. It’s staying hungry is what we need. We need to stay hungry during our fitness adventures, while we’re at work, while we work on our creativity, our relationships, or when we’re planning what’s next in our lives. In his 2005 Stanford commencement address, Steve Jobs told the graduates:
When we get something, whatever that thing may be, it doesn’t mean that we’re done. That accomplishment or achievement isn’t the end, it’s just a point in a story of continued progress. The key here is continued progress, not ‘pause to rest on your laurels’ progress. We have too much of that. Instead, we can strive for more. We can acknowledge what we have accomplished, then turn to what is next.
Hungry for more? Great, we all are. Hungry for something, and you’ve accomplished it? Well done. Hungry for more, despite your accomplishments? That’s where success is waiting for you.
When Bethany is teaching her own classes, she’ll use a similar strategy to the one that I used. She told me about her dancers working on progressing their skills. After days, weeks, or months, they did it. Let’s say someone got their ‘double’ for the first time. What’s her preferred feedback?
Tomorrow you’ll get your triple.
It’s simple, supportive, and more than anything else, a great way to remind us that there is always something out there to strive for. There is always something we can work on more, whether we’re looking at minuscule improvement or massive change. There’s always time and room to get better. We’re often hungry for growth, but to maintain that hunger, to stay hungry while you’re achieving, that is where success lies. Go get your triple.