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Don't Get Too Precious About One Rep

A fellow coach shared with me recently that she had this idea about an email she wanted to write to her clients. It was a good idea. A great idea! She’s been thinking about this idea a lot. She thought about what she’d say in an email as she poured herself coffee in the morning. She thought about the idea while walking her dogs. She mulled about exact wording while getting dinner ready.

“I think you are getting a little too precious about this idea”, I told her.

Another coach just wrote a piece from the heart, and wants to know what I think about it. I think it’s a piece from the heart. I think she should write more, before she gets too precious with it.

Ever heard that expression?

Precious means valuable. Precious is rare.

But to be “too precious” about something means treating something as more valuable and rare than it is. And I know that feeling all too well. [Heck, I think I’ve been a little too precious about writing THIS very email - the email about how we get a wee bit too precious with things. How’s that for meta?]

If you exercise regularly, imagine taking that approach with the workouts. You decide you should get in a workout. You think about the workout, you plan the workout. You consider the details of the workout. You write in your journal about that workout. You talk to your friends. You email your coach.

Sounds silly, right?

I do this. I pick a topic for my next essay, and get stuck. I think about it. I plan it. It feels interesting, it feels good. I should do it justice. I think about it. I walk around and chew on it. Chew and chew, until it loses all taste and texture. By the time it makes it onto the paper, it’s meaningless cud. It lost spice along the way. I held it so close and for so long, I killed it.

We do this with things that feel important.

We also do this with things that are new.

Ever seen a beginner try a new movement, and get really precious about the one rep? They pick up the barbell, they do a clean (badly), and look over their shoulder to the coach. “Was that right?”.

“No, not really,” thinks the coach, then offers an adjustment.

The beginner tries gingerly to make the change.

“Was THAT right?”.

They squint at themselves in the mirror, trying to hinge their hips a bit. They adjust the grip on the bar. Like this? The coach is tired. He shrugs. “Yes. That’s better.”

It’s not really better, but they are stuck on that one rep.

They need to move on to the next rep.

There is no way to fix that one rep by focusing on that one rep. The only way to fix the rep is to do hundreds more reps. Then rep number two hundred will be much better.

Just like with workouts, the solution to getting too precious with anything seems to be frequency.

Do the thing, do it frequently. Once in a while, that thing will be brilliant (be it an essay or a workout), once in a while, it will suck. Most of the time, it will be… good enough, and most importantly - done.

If you feel yourself getting too precious with an idea, a workout, a rep - move on. Get it out, and work on the next idea, next workout, next rep.

Otherwise, you (and I) will forever be in front of that mirror, trying to hinge our hips just right.



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