Tomorrow I’ll be heading to Bang Fitness in Toronto to participate in a StrongFirst Level 1 Kettlebell certification.
I am beyond excited. And a little bit (or rather a huge, massive, heaving bit) scared. I have trained all year for this weekend. I have followed a meticulous training schedule (thanks Brett Jones!). I have read theory, watched videos, and attended workshops (thanks Chris Lopez!). I’ve tried to dial in my diet, and I’ve been progressive and particular about weighting up my bells. I’ve done countless swings, squats, get-ups, cleans, presses, and snatches. In short, I’ve tried to do the work necessary to become certified at the end of the weekend.
Here’s the thing – I still might not pass. I might end the weekend with a bunch of knowledge, and more work to do.
Strongfirst is a very challenging certification. You need to be able to demonstrate your ability to teach, perform, and persevere. The lifting standards are detailed. The workouts are grueling. The weekend is long, and hard on the body and mind (so I’ve heard). It’s also incredibly rewarding and, pass or fail, you come home better and stronger than you were.
So, what does this have to do with roller derby?
More than you’d think, actually.
As you know, I train all of our fresh meat. I also train our league skaters. I have seen a lot of girls try to become derby skaters. I have seen a lot of them succeed, and I have seen a lot of them quit.
Please note, I’ve not mentioned seeing anyone fail. Derby is tough on you – both physically and mentally. Derby takes a lot of commitment, time, and energy. Derby forces you to be honest about what you can do, and what you have yet to be able to accomplish.
You only fail if you cease to try.
That’s how I’m looking at this certification – either I’m ready to pass, or I still need more work before I’m ready to pass. I don’t fail. I don’t suck at everything. The instructors won’t be wrong and biased and just have it out for me – either I’m ready now or I’m not yet.
Derby is the same way. I have seen dozens of girls lose their bananas over not being drafted, rostered, or played. I have seen them call themselves all sorts of names, and beat themselves into the ground. Over and over again, I’ve seen skaters call themselves failures, and then I’ve seen them spiral into self-doubt and poor play. I’ve also seen skaters pull themselves up after missing the draft (or roster or line) and come back at it hard. I’ve seen them attack their challenges like mad dogs and turn those challenges into the skills that they dominate.
Want to guess which strategy makes better derby skaters?
What matters is not always the outcome – we can’t control the outcome most of the time. What matters is the input. What matters is doing the work, and being confident that you’ve done the work. Sometimes you’re just not the right person for the job, sometimes you’re not the one who needs to be on the roster, or the one who makes the team. But if you did the work, you have nothing to be ashamed of if the output isn’t quite what you wanted.
Don’t get me wrong – if I don’t pass this weekend, I’ll likely be upset and I’ll go through some “what did I do wrong” drama with myself. Not getting what you want when you feel like you’ve worked hard for it STINKS. Especially when you feel like you’ve done all you can do. But if that happens, it will likely be that I just wasn’t ready yet. And accepting when you’re not yet ready is a pretty important skill to learn. It’s one I’m still working on. But I’m thinking of it this way, no matter which way things go – I spent a full year dedicated to a very specific goal. I worked my tail off, and have already accomplished things I never thought I could when I started. I met some wonderful people. If all I focus on is 5 minutes at the end of a 3-day weekend, I’m not giving myself nearly enough credit for all of the amazingness that I’ve already achieved. If you focus on one roster (or line or whatever), you’re not giving your whole derby journey nearly the weight it deserves.
So whether in derby, or training for a tough kettlebell certification, or anything you’re excited about – do the work. Don’t avoid your challenges. No one ever became a champion by ONLY doing things they were already good at. Ask for help when you need it. Do the work with confidence. Let that confidence show no matter the outcome.