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Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why is it whenever we try something new we think we must do it well right away? I was thinking about these questions last week while trying to make it through a spinning class.
It was my second class. If you’ve never tried spinning, let me tell you, it’s nothing like pedaling a bike down a country road. It’s more like running up a steep hill while being chased by an unrelenting 800-pound bear. At least when you’re a beginner.
My first class had been tolerable. The instructor was low key and the class was filled primarily with women in reasonable condition. It was difficult to be sure, but not too intimidating.
The second class was led by an overly, energetic guy. The participants looked like they had just stepped off the cover of a health magazine. I was the only one there wearing sweats and a T-Shirt. As soon as I entered the room I knew I was in trouble.
In all fairness, I must say that spinning is like yoga in the respect that everyone in the class is encouraged to work “at their own level.” Do what you can and rest when you need to is what the instructors say. And because you are working more or less individually, the unfit (like me) never have to worry about holding back the superstars in the group. As my yoga teacher is fond of saying, “It’s only your ego that pushes you to do more than you can.”
And it was my ego that gave me the most trouble in that spinning class. While the strapping guys, and gals, were sprinting, I tried to keep up. When they stood, I tried to stand too. I kept one eye on the clock. Several times I considered leaving. About mid-way through the class I resigned myself to sitting down and lowered the resistance on my bike. But, I was embarrassed because I couldn’t keep up.
Towards the end of the class, I spotted another woman dressed in sweats on the other side of the room. She didn’t try to ride in a standing position when the others did. She didn’t try to race either. She seemed content to go at her own pace. She was my role model.
Well, I made it through the class. Afterwards, I chatted with a long-time spinner. She encouraged me to “stick with it” and “go at my own pace.” She also gave me some tips on how to increase my endurance before the next class. Her encouraging words helped me tremendously. After training for a week I’m eager to give spinning another try.
This time, I’m determined not to let my ego get in the way. I will give myself time to build my stamina. I will give myself a chance to succeed. If I continue to find I can’t cut it, maybe spinning is not for me. So I’ll try something else.
What’s the point to this story? I think our egos often hold us back. Sometimes we don’t move forward because we’re unsure of ourselves. Maybe we’re afraid of what others will think if we’re unsuccessful. Perhaps we’re concerned about meeting our own expectations. Basically, on some level we’re afraid to fail.
Think about it. When was the last time you took a chance? Stepped out of your comfort zone, tried your best and realized it would not be the end of your career if you failed.
Don’t let your ego keep you from taking a risk. Decide what you want. Set realistic expectations. Then get out there and go for it.
Give yourself the opportunity to succeed. More importantly, give yourself permission to make mistakes. As Confucius says, Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.