That’s a wrap!  Another Open is in the books.  Congratulations to every one who survived the last five weeks.  I’m sure you all learned something about yourselves from the experience and walked away better for it, myself included.  This was my sixth Open that I have participated in and I am still learning from it every year.  On that note, here are my top four takeaways from the 2018 Open…

1. Fear is a good thing.

It’s the final seconds before you start the workout.  Your mouth is dry; your heart is racing.  You step up to your barbell and take a deep breath.  You give your judge the nod that you’re ready.  Then, 3… 2… 1… Go!

Those butterflies in your stomach, that adrenaline surging through your veins, that’s fear and it’s an uncomfortable feeling.  This fight or flight response is there to protect you from danger and uncomfortable situations.  Your body pleas with you to get the hell out of there.

Because, you have stepped out of the boundaries of your comfort zone.  You have ventured into the unknown.  You don’t know what is going to happen, but you know it is going to hurt.  And yet, you do it anyway.  You push through the discomfort and when you’re done, you feel incredible.  This is how we grow as humans and expand the limits of our comfort zone.

Don’t try to avoid fear.  Use it.  If you’re afraid to do something, it probably means you’re on the right track.

2. It’s okay to fail.

It’s going to happen.  You’ll miss a lift.  You’ll blow up on a workout.  You’ll do worse than you’d hoped.  That’s life.  These things happen.  And once it’s done, it’s done.

Don’t dwell on the failure and play the victim.  Ask yourself what you could’ve done differently and then move on.  Because you can’t change what’s already happened, but you can control how you respond to it.

Do you want to be the person who lets a bad workout ruin their day or do you want to be the person who handles their failures with grace and moves on with their life?

You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can always control how you respond to it.

3. Nobody Is Thinking About Your Score.

This year was my sixth Open that I have participated in and after six years there is one thing I know for certain.  Nobody is thinking about your score.

I know it sounds depressing, but hear me out.  In my first few years competing in the Open, I was obsessed with my placing on the Leaderboard.  I would agonize over workouts and repeat them multiple times to maximize my score.  I was so worried about what other people would think about me if I did poorly on a workout.

But, over time I’ve realized that nobody cares about my score and they never did.  Sure, everyone wants you to do your best and will cheer their hearts out for you during the workout, but they’re not thinking about your performance the next day.  People have too many things going on in their own lives to waste time thinking about your score on a workout.  Sure, you might pop up on their radar every now and then if you do something truly noteworthy, but sooner or later their focus goes back to their own worries.

This may strike you as a sad thought at first, but it can actually be quite freeing inside and outside of the gym.  Think about it like this.  You are free to do what you want to do; to be who you want to be.  You need not worry about what others will think of you when you do this, because they were never thinking of you in the first place.

So, take this as permission to put yourself out there, try something new, or set an audacious goal.  Don’t worry about falling on your face.  Because, even if you do, chances are no one will even remember it happened.

4. Everything is Better with Friends.

Achieving goals and crushing PR’s is bad ass and feels great.  But, these moments are fleeting and the fulfillment you feel is temporary, because there’s always another target to aim for, another mountain to climb.

That’s why it’s always good to stop and be grateful for all of the amazing people in your life.  The people who show up for you every day and will love you no matter what.  Whether your performance was good or bad, life goes on and the important things remain.

At the end of the day, chasing fitness is all well and good, but you’re not going to remember your latest back squat PR on your deathbed.  You’re going to remember the people who meant the most to you and the great times you shared together.

Don’t get so wrapped up in reaching your destination that you forget about the people who are on the journey with you.

It’s a long road and everything is better with friends.

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