Whether you love or hate CrossFit, I want to share lessons that anyone can learn from the most inclusive fitness competition on Earth.
You can't fail if you don't try
It is easy to get distracted if you focus on where you are in the race rather than how close you are to the finish line. I am often the last to finish a workout, especially during the CrossFit Open. Rather than focusing on the fact everyone else has finished and I am still eking out my pull-ups, I think about all of the other athletes who decided not to compete. I would rather participate and place last than avoid competing in the first place. Failure shouldn't scare you, but not trying should.
Measure and share success
The CrossFit Open has a worldwide online league table, which records the results of five different workouts over five weeks; anyone can compete for the CrossFit Games open stages. Whether it is burpees, squats, or deadlifts, everyone knows the rules, how you are evaluated, what it takes to win, and the rewards. Now, think about your relationship with your team, your board, your investors, or your boss: Do you have the same level of clarity of what is expected of you and your results?
Performance during exhaustion matters
Exhaustion is inevitable in CrossFit. How you perform when you are exhausted but three minutes remain on the clock will set you apart from the crowd. Last year during the games, one of our coaches in the final minute just exploded--he managed three "ground-to-overhead" movements in the last 10 seconds. He performed harder and faster than in the previous nine minutes. That is the definition of an elite athlete. As a leader it is easy to become overwhelmed, exhausted, and overworked. The key is how you dig into your mental and physical reserves and continue to perform until you reach your business goal or your CrossFit coach calls "Time!"
If you want to hear more, you can learn other leadership lessons from CrossFit in my interview last year with Inc's Burt Helm here.