One of my favorite kids’ stories is The Little Engine that Could. This might surprise people who know me well, since I am not always known for my positive mindset. I tend to be cautious, take baby steps, and keep my expectations conservative (at best.)
In case it’s been a while, the Little Blue Engine, when faced with an enormous task, takes it on, chugs along, and tells herself “I Think I Can” as she pulls train cars loaded with toys over a tall mountain. At the end, she is a hero to the kids on the other side.
I think like this story so much because it is a challenge to me. At time, my inner mindset is “What if I can’t? What if I hurt myself? Make a fool of myself? What if I fail?” Then, if repeated often enough, it becomes “I can’t. I’ll fail.” End of story.
This is where friends and coaches come in. I’m lucky to have several people around me who believe in me. Who challenge me. Who call me on my negativity. Who tell me that THEY think I can.
Enter Coach Alex. I’ve talked before about injuries I’ve had at the gym. I do modify movements, keep weights light, and scale in all kinds of ways. Although it is mostly for safety purposes, there are still times I forget to challenge myself and just basically coast.
One movement that scares me is box jumps. Body weight movements are just challenging and coordination is not my strong point. An aggravated Achilles last year was another setback. I had worked back up to step-ups, often with weight, but Alex got me jumping again. He prefers jumps to step-overs and step-ups. I moved from dumbbells, to two plates, up to three. I was feeling pretty good.
Then one of those friends that challenges me asked me, “So how much higher is it to actually jump on the box? It can’t be that much higher.”
Which got me thinking. (Maybe I can?)
She had noticed I was jumping higher and thought that was great, but she isn’t one to let me just rest on my laurels. The best kind of friend, even though being challenged may not always feel the best.
So between Alex and my friend, I knew the day to try was coming. Today turned out to be that day. Box jumps in the workout. As we were getting set up I grabbed the box and, unceremoniously, walked it across the gym to a tucked-away corner (in case I face- planted), set it down, stared at it for a minute and…
remembered what Coach Alex said. Jump with everything you have. Feet wider, pump my arms, focus on the box.
Then I remembered my friend, and thought “it isn’t that much higher than what I’ve already conquered.” (I think I can….gulp).
And I jumped!
And I jumped!
And I jumped! Again and again, 52 times all together. A few shaky landings and wobbly knees, but NO face plants or scarred shins. Success.
It doesn’t read as nicely as the children’s story. There’s not really a happy ending, cheering children, an unlikely hero…for me, there’s only maybe a happy ending to a chapter, then a look at what comes next. (A higher box?)
Thankful for friends and coaches who remind us that we can, when we’ve forgotten what we can accomplish. Changing our minds can lead to changing our lives, whether in the gym, the classroom, in the living room, or just about anywhere.