Perfection and Motivation

I was going to write about the pursuit of perfection within the realm of CrossFit. There has been an interesting debate in the CrossFit community lately, prompted by Jon Gilson’s excellent article The Non-Negotiability of Perfection, concerning the importance of proper form in timed efforts; Gilson argues that if we do not hold the standard in all of our efforts, then whatever the fruit of our labor, it is bitter and not sweet. Yet CrossFit Atlanta offers a well-crafted rebuttal (link) that less-than-perfect form, as long as it is not dangerous or easier, is acceptable and understandable as an athlete tires during a metabolic conditioning workout. So, where do you draw the line? Is it okay to accept less than perfection? Or must perfect technique be the overriding goal always?

And then it occurred to me: does any of this matter to the CrossFit masses? I’m not talking about Eva or Nicole or Greg or any of the CrossFit elite, nor am I talking about the Navy Seals humpin’ out these workouts in half the time that it takes me and then finishing it off with a 2 mile swim and a run. I’m talking about what I’m guessing is a substantial part of CF Nation: the average Joe or Jane looking to lose some love handles and build a bit of muscle. I’m talking about the woman struggling to do pull-ups on the Woody Band. Does she really care if her chest is supposed to go to the bar or just her chin? Is it folly to talk about perfection when motivation to keep at it is really the paramount goal of the moment? Where is the line between motivating someone and discouraging them? If we attempt to pursue perfection all the time, is it a self-defeating game? Does perfection exist?

I don’t know. Maybe, like the perfect golf swing, it exists only in our heads. And maybe that’s where it should stay. My standard must be met for me: it may not be your standard, but does that ultimately matter? If you achieve a better "Fran" time but your form is compromised, does that make my achievement in the same workout any greater or less than yours? And should I even care? To properly assess this perfection debate, we must return to what is perhaps the primary reason for the timing of the CrossFit workouts: to provide motivation for our efforts. Motivation is, and always will be, personal. I can help to motivate you but ultimately you must motivate yourself. No one else can do that for you. Perfection may never be obtainable, but the motivation to want perfection is. Don’t measure yourself against anybody else. Measure yourself against yourself. If you are a better person today than you were yesterday, rejoice. If not, work harder.

Melkirkpushups_3 Today’s Workout

"Tabata This"

For each exercise, 8 rounds of 20 seconds on/10 sec off. One minute rest between exercises.

Squats

Pull-ups

Push-ups

Sit-ups

Row (calories)

Keep track of the number of reps achieved in each round. Keep only the lowest score. Total all five exercises for final score.

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  1. [...] Motivation “…the primary reason for the timing of the CrossFit workouts: to provide motivation for our efforts. Motivation is, and always will be, personal. I can help to motivate you but ultimately you must motivate yourself. No one else can do that for you. Perfection may never be obtainable, but the motivation to want perfection is. Don’t measure yourself against anybody else. Measure yourself against yourself. If you are a better person today than you were yesterday, rejoice. If not, work harder.” – excerpt from Lisbeth Darsh [...]

  2. [...] Perfection and Motivation [...]