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April 26, 2005

Motivation eclipse

I have been seeing in the cycling/running/fitness world the feeling of inadequacy some people feel when around someone who is motivated. It could be a feeling of intimidation or a fear of being seen as somehow Ďless.í There are many opportunities to feel this way when doing group events or even on runs or biking with friends. I have let this fear pop up in myself, recognized it for what it is and then let it go.
The truth is that every person is at a different point in their fitness for any given activity and in life. Itís natural, tempting and easy to start comparing ourselves with others. After all, we are all models for each other. But how we use that comparison is sometimes unnatural. Itís not good if we use it to self-deprecate ourselves. We can have wonderful results when we can compare ourselves with others to better ourselves or improve our methods, but when those comparisons are not serving that purpose itís kind of counter-productive. Iíve seen people on bike rides that just give up when someone zips by them effortlessly. Or after years and years of training a person sees a newcomer exceed their best efforts and loses their ambition to keep working at it. Iíve even felt a sense of futility in the lead-up to the start of my bike-racing season. Monday I start the St. Paul Bike Racing Club Beginning Racing Program (BRP). Iíve ridden with so many incredibly strong riders now that could leave me in their dust. I remember thinking, ďWhatís the point? I could never hope to win a race if there are people like that racing. Especially when Iím going all out on a training ride and they make it look easy, pulling ahead and riding off into the horizon until I canít see them anymore. Itís easy to feel like the huge effort is really pointless. It happened to me when I first rode with Kevin and Mike. Their pace was really fast and I had a lot of trouble keeping up. I felt like I was improving over the last year and that I was in pretty good shape coming into this season, but that ride with them made me feel totally inadequate for bike racing. But when we compare ourselves with others who are way above our physical or mental ability in this way, itís easy to feel inadequate.
It doesnít have to be that way though. We can use these comparisons to motivate ourselves to push harder, to keep training. There is a difference in attitude. First of all, I remind myself that Iím not doing this for them. When I compare my fitness now with my fitness level last year at this time, I realize that Iíve come a long way! To me it all depends on MY attitude, not someone elseís. I am motivated for my own reasons and Iím free to accept myself for who I am. Secondly, I have multiple levels of motivation for doing Bike Racing and Running and even Language Learning. Itís not to prove I can do it. Itís not to prove Iím stronger or better or smarter than someone else. Iím following my heart, and the interactions I have with others in these things will reveal even more purpose for me. One of which is to become a mentor with Bolder Options. Thirdly, I believe physical fitness is good for my mental, physical and spiritual well being. Have your own reasons for doing what you are doing. Use your comparisons to improve yourself.
That is one thing I wish for everyone. Be free and do things for your own reasons, donít be intimidated by others to the point where you give up your dreams. Even if you have to work harder than others, your success will depend on your own attitudes and motivation, not someone elseís.

Posted by carl1236 at April 26, 2005 5:01 PM | motivation