A long time ago when I was still training at CrossFit LA, the WOD was a 1RM bench press. I hadn’t bench pressed in 20 years and I approached the workout with trepidation.
But after a vein-popping, trembling exertion, I surprised myself by benching 205 pounds. Well almost.
After I locked the bar out, John Burch no-repped me. “The bar was two inches off your chest, Teddy! Do it right!”
I went from elation to deflation in an instant. I had worked so hard, I couldn’t imagine duplicating that lift with an additional two inches of range.
But it’s the funniest thing: when someone holds you to a standard, you generally find you can meet it.
A few minutes later, I tried again and managed a legit lift at the same weight with a dead stop on my chest.
I think about this episode all the time. If John hadn’t called me out, I would still probably be giving myself credit for something I hadn’t earned. I didn’t know any better. But his goading punctured the false confidence of half-measures. Even though it was irritating at the time, it made me a better CrossFitter, and therefore a better person.
That’s the thing with standards; they’re incredibly annoying, especially when you’re trying to meet them. But if someone holds you to a standard it says that they believe in you and that they care about you.
Letting things slide is what you do when you don’t really care about somebody.