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You Are Not Special.


You Are Not Special.

12 minute AMRAP:
20 KB swings
20 GHD sit-ups
20 wall ball

You Are Not Special.

As a caveat, you probably want to watch the video before you read this post…

At my high school graduation a well-known congressman gave the commencement speech as his daughter was in our graduating class.  It was pretty good.  Two years later he gave the exact same speech at my brother’s baccalaureate.  Really, did he not think that any other family in the entire high school also had two children two years apart? – and did he really think his fellow Americans were that dumb not to realize?  I’m not bitter…but I sure wish the guy in THIS video would have spoke at my graduation.

In the above video, David McCullough Jr. gives the commencement speech to the 2012 Wellesley High School graduating class.  In short, he reminds them that they’re not special.

I think, occasionally, we could all use a little reminder that we’re not special – I know I could.  In high school, my Mom reminded Trevor and me of this almost weekly (in those exact words, “you’re not special”) as I would cry, complain, or throw mini tantrums about why things weren’t fair or that other kids were allowed to do things that I was not – (but sadly), out here on my own, I need to remind myself.

What does reminding myself that I am not special look like?…

I opened a gym.  So what, there are 6,000 other individuals out there who opened a CrossFit gym.  I eat Paleo.  Big deal, so do thousands and thousands of individuals and, yes, they’re stricter than you.  I can deadlifted 305 pounds.  Awesome Nicole, you still have to put away the weights you used.  I’m the gym owner.  Great, the world – and the coaches’ meeting start time – doesn’t revolve around you.  I travel every weekend for work as part of the CrossFit Headquarters Seminar Staff – whoopdeedoo, so do 60 other people and, yes, it still means you have to fold laundry when you come home.  I went to an Ivy League school and graduated with honors.  Great Nicole, are you familiar with the term “grade inflation”?

In McCulloch’s speech he states that as a society we track “accolades rather than genuine achievement.”  That’s part of the beauty of CrossFit – we track genuine achievement through real hard numbers.  Through black and white, you either did it or you didn’t, benchmarks, PRs, weights, and measures there is a genuine sense of achievement or lack there of in every workout.  We will never compromise standards or ignore reality so you may put a number on the whiteboard.  Imagine if your 1 rep max deadlift slipped out of your hand just before your hip opened and we said, close enough, we’ll throw it up on the whiteboard!  HA!  You would look at the coaches like we were crazy.

On the flip side, it’s easy for the “I am special” feelings to creep into our daily lives at the shop.  What would a “you are special” CrossFit look like?  Imagine if every time you PR’ed your deadlift we gave you a gold star.  Imagine if you could also earn gold stars by wearing CrossFit inspired clothing and after 100 gold stars you moved into the “gold class.”  Imagine if the person who got first place in the workout that day was THE SHIT – no matter what weights they used to finish first.  Imagine if PRing your lift meant you could skip out on the rest of class if you didn’t like the next segment.  Imagine if being a member at the shop for two years meant you could show up late, take 5 minutes to tape your hands, and then join the group class when you felt like it.  Can you see how this series of fake accolades and false senses of achievement would never had gotten the CrossFit community to where it is today? 

At Roots, we’ve always expected every athlete that comes through our doors to work hard, respect their fellow athletes, pick-up after themselves, take responsibility for their workouts and fueling, and to show up on time – no matter their experience level, athletic ability, accolades, profession, graduating class rank, marital status, number of children in diapers, number of Facebook friends, or Klout score.  

Our athletes won’t earn accolades, a patch, or letters after their name for doing the above mentioned items.  But doesn’t a 3x bodyweight deadlift sound so much better anyway?


6 Responses

  1. BradApple

    Thanks for sharing the video Nicole.  It was great and very true.  Great narrative as well.  Appreciate your thoughts and agree completely. 

  2. Allison

    Nicole, I never feel “special” at Roots, but I always feel valued, valuable and appreciated by you and the entire staff- worthy of a kick in the pants or a word of encouragement when needed or praise when deserved. And that’s way better than being special.

  3. Emma Costello

    Hi Nicole!
    Was just checking in on things on the site! things look great I miss you guys! Mr McCullough is my across the street neighbor at home, isn’t that crazy? Hope all is well!