We just finished the CrossFit Open, which is a worldwide exercise competition. Each week, the CrossFit folks post a workout, everyone in the world completes the same workout, and then you post your scores online. You get to compare your score with everyone else, and see how you measure up.
Each week, they post the regular workout, and they also post a scaled version, with lighter weights. For some reason, it’s really important to me to do the regular workout. I feel badly about myself if I have to scale. It makes me feel less than. It’s like I’m in 5th grade gym class all over again.
Earlier in the competition, there was a workout where I knew the weights were too heavy for me. But I pushed it and did the regular workout anyway. Not surprisingly, I hurt my back and hobbled around for a few days afterward. It wasn’t worth it.
For this last workout, I had the same thought. I saw the workout, and I knew the weights were too heavy. The scaled version was a better fit for me. I knew that if I did the scaled version, I would get a better workout, and I was less likely to get hurt. Still, there was something inside me that resisted. I wanted to do the regular workout, just to prove something. I didn’t want the other people at the gym to see me doing the scaled weight. My ego was more important than making a decision that was best for me.
I ended up deciding to do the scaled workout. I had a great workout, and I didn’t get hurt. No one made fun of me or criticized me for doing the scaled workout. And I tried my best not to be too hard on myself for doing the scaled workout.
The ego is a weird thing. We care a lot about what other people think of us. Or we might have this ‘ego part’ of ourselves that sets an arbitrary standard, and judges us harshly when we don’t quite meet it. But our ego can lead us in a direction that isn’t best for us. If you find this happening in your life, I invite you to do an experiment. Leave your ego at the door and ask yourself, “What decision would be in my best interests?” “What choice would be most beneficial for me and my family?” Step forward into that decision and see what happens.
Discussion: Does your ego ever lead you in a direction that isn’t in your best interests? What is the hardest part about leaving your ego at the door?