What CrossFit taught me about fear and innovation

What CrossFit taught me about fear and innovation

I remember starting CrossFit four years ago, and the first things you learn is all about your body and how far you can push it. Then you learn about the mind.  Then, you realise it’s the only thing stopping the body. Here is what I’ve learned about fear and failure through life and work.

On fear

The first time you’ve got over 120kgs on your back for your first heavy squat, you learn the worse case scenario: you won’t lift it. Not a bad outcome. But it is something that a coach has to point out to you time and time again, because your head gets in the way of something that your able to do.

You’re motivated to be as physically powerful as time and opportunity allows you to be.  You’re going to lead as much innovation by the same factors.  You can only achieve what you set-out to. Aim too low, and you’ll never achieve anything of great height.

Fear will strange creativity, innovation and progress.

On failure

Last year, three friends and I completed the 100km Wild Endurance event in 19 hours straight.  None of us had completed anything like this before in our lives. But we never questioned for a moment whether we could. We simply registered, then started training three months out and turned up one cold morning on in May at the blue mountains and just started walking.

Showing up is half the battle.

We made it. We came fourth. We were as surprised as everyone else. It’s something I’ll never forget.  This month I’ve been considering a 250km trek over the Sahara. If we didn’t make it: I’d still be considering it as a next step. I only know that because the three months of physio I needed after ensured I remember just what that pain felt like.  You learn from it, you want to keep learning from more of it.

On creativity and innovation

I sit in countless meetings where organisations cry out for creativity and innovation. What’s does that mean? Let alone, how do we do it?  How do you know when you’re staring at it? You mighn’t. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You don’t turn up to the front of a CrossFit box to stand out the front wondering if you should go in.  Or maybe you do.

Creativity is something new or a new take on an existing idea. It doesn’t have a predetermined outcome. There’s a risk profile associated with the decision to follow these paths. Accept it.  Innovation (as the commercial application of creativity) is no different. Like any start-up knows, there’s risk, but there’s opportunity.

Steve Willis (Commando Steve) posted this last week:

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.- Arnold Bennett

You ask anyone at point-blank range and they want change, innovation and not to fall stagnant. No they don’t. There’s a strength of character and level of  adaptability that you begin to lose as soon as you get into this game.  It’s hard to get it back, and you forget what it feels like for a long time.

Start-ups know this, and once they grow, they generally remember this: there was a time where everything was on the line, and nothing was certain. And entrepreneurs, love this feeling.

Ken Robinson talks about kids not being afraid of being wrong, that they’ll “always have a go” – and that’s important. So we should.  Ken talks a lot of what I’m trying to articulate here: we grow out of creativity.  We all need to just have a go. Pick up the bar!

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” (Ken Robinson)

Opportunity and circumstance

We’re all what time, opportunity and circumstance make us.  We’re all products of our environments. You need to lead change before change leads you.

Successful people don’t fear failure, but understand it is necessary to learn and grown from. – Robert Kiyosaki.

People won’t remember your failures. They will remember how you deal with  them.  There is always opportunity. It is entirely up to you what you do with yours.

Go into the box, pick up the bar, and make your attempt. Lift.

Photo credit

Jye Smith is currently Senior Vice President, Head of Strategy & Operations, Asia Pacific at Weber Shandwick. Ranked in B&Ts 30 Under 30, Jye a regular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator who specialises in digital and social media strategist.

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Lisa Mackie at 1:30 pm

    Like this alot; good inspiration on a rainy Tuesday. For if nothing changes, nothing changes :)

  2. Pingback: Jye Smith on social media, digital media and story telling | A Digital Perspective