“Leave Your Ego at the Door”
We’ve all heard this before, but what does it mean?
First, let’s define ego. Ego is defined as a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance, and is synonymous with pride, self-image, self-respect, self-worth, self-confidence and self-conceit. Second, why do we need to leave it at the door? This is a little harder to explain, and this is because ego has a spectrum. Take pride for example. It is not a bad thing to be proud of your accomplishments, but excessive pride (hubris for my Oedipus Rex fans) can lead to flaunting one’s success, becoming aloof and unapproachable, and becoming unaware of other people’s feelings and needs. Mind you, this is in the extreme case, but I’m sure at one point or another in your life, you have dealt with someone that was a little high on their own ego. We want to avoid becoming this person!
The most dangerous attitude to have is to see the workout and say I need to do the Rx, Fitness, or the Scaled movements/standards. This is your ego speaking again. Who cares if you Rx or scale a workout, or if you were top on the whiteboard? Not me, and you shouldn’t either. What I really care about is that you work hard, and do the best you can that day. By leaving our egos at the door, we are able to come in each day with an open mind, truthfully assess how our bodies are feeling, and base what we do off of the intended stimulus. Injuries usually occur when we stop listening to our bodies and force ourselves to adhere to standards, movements, or weights that are above our ability for that day.
Marcus Filly has a great quote that goes hand in hand with this. “Sometimes you need to lower your expectations in order to succeed at the gym.” Wait, what?! Lower my expectations, never, I want to get better!! If this is the first thing you thought when you read that quote, guess what was driving those thoughts? You got it, ego. This is a powerful statement and makes a lot of sense if you are veteran athlete, or if you have injured yourself in the past.
Some days we just don’t feel good, or didn’t get enough sleep, or didn’t eat enough, or are sick, or had a really stressful day at work and are mentally checked out. We all have been there, and it’s on these days that we need to lower our expectations. You cannot expect to PR every day; even when you feel great this is an unhealthy mental and physical attitude. It’s OK to have a bad day, we are human and it happens. Sometimes you need to just come in and move, blow off some steam, and as many of you have fondly proclaimed: just embrace the suck.
If you can leave the gym each day knowing that you moved well, got a little better, got a good sweat on, and did not injure yourself, that is what really matters! Because that will set you up for long term success, which will ultimately make you a better athlete and person.