By: Michael Collette (Head Coach/Owner of CrossFit Prototype)
Let’s face it, we have all “cherry picked” a workout before (yes, I’m guilty as well). So what is “cherry picking”? Basically, you pick and choose the workouts you like or that might not seem hard and skip the harder days. Maybe you’re a little sore and the workout is harder than you want to work today. Or maybe you have a limited schedule today but the WOD includes running (which you hate) so you deprioritize coming to the box. It’s summer, we get it. The sun is out, it’s hot, and the beach is calling your name! Summer is almost over, though; back to reality.
To back up what I’m talking about I checked Wodify attendance records over the past month to find evidence of cherry picking, and, even after factoring for vacation, a couple of data points stood out. When we did the CFP mile and 500m row on August 15th attendance was off by 13%. Not terrible cherry picking, but when I pulled stats for the 2000m row on August 23rd I found attendance was down by 32% compared with other Tuesdays in the summer. Cherry picking.
So here’s a question: if you were to walk into work and tell your boss (or if you’re the boss, tell your employees) that you’re only going to work on days when there isn’t much work to do, what do you think he or she would say? What if you only worked on days that weren’t “beach weather” days? Pretty simple answer: they wouldn’t be very happy.
Here’s another brain buster: What if you told a potential employer during an interview you were only going to show up 40% of the time? Do you think you would get the job? He or she might appreciate your honesty, but you probably wouldn’t get the job.
For those of you who set goals, whether financial milestones you want to reach or fitness goals you want to achieve, those objectives are always going to be challenging. There is no substitute for hard work and dedication. There is no easy path to success, but when you only go to the fitness gym 40% of the time, when you only “show up” when you want to and when you “cherry pick” workouts because some are hard, none of these behaviors will positively impact your goals. How are you supposed to reach your full potential when you aren’t doing the things to get you there?
Avoiding your weaknesses makes goal attainment even more challenging and doesn’t align with what you are trying to achieve. The hardest part of any goal is simply showing up. This includes walking through the door to the gym, being proactive, doing the hard stuff to get on track, and accepting it’s going to be challenging…but it’s worth it.
CFP member Brent French teaches leadership and change to MBA students at WPI and to military officers at the Naval War College, and he likes to say “the human capacity for avoidance is nearly limitless.” The reasons we avoid tough WODs are complicated, but one of the current theories is that avoiding our weaknesses (rather than developing them) is a form of self-protection. Our egos can’t take the hit of a “bad workout,” and one of the big differences between those willing to work on weakness and cherry pickers is a growth (versus fixed) mindset.
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s research found that some of her students loved solving hard problems in the classroom because they saw them as challenging and the problems would help them grow. Other students tended to believe “you are what you are,” and this fixed perspective meant a good grade meant they were “good” and a bad grade meant they were “bad.” She calls this a fixed mindset, and it crowds out the possibility of actual growth and development. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I bet at least some CFP cherry picking is the result of a fixed mindset. If you’d like to learn more, Dweck’s 10-minute TedTalk is here and her book can be found here.
Bottom line: if you “cherry pick,” you’re only limiting your potential and it’s only going to negatively impact your success. You are free to keep cherry picking running workouts despite your goal to improve your mile time. Just don’t complain you haven’t improved or that “it never gets easier.”
CrossFit is transformative because it combines high levels of challenge with even higher levels of support. Challenge + Support = A Better You. We are here to help. Just do us a favor and walk through the door of our fitness gym; our fitness trainers will take it from there!