I love stories that go like this:
The hero/heroine decides to do something seemingly outrageous. The chorus is discouraging, incredulous, doubtful, Eeyore-esque: “You’ll never make it/do it/accomplish it because of <insert list of barriers here>.” Sometimes these barriers seem crazy, but often they feel legit. However, in spite of these barriers, the hero/heroine accomplishes what he or she sets out to do. The naysayers are ashamed and the crowd cheers. A benchmark is set. (And, sometimes, a Hollywood movie is made.)
Your rowing career could be this story. Some version of this scenario could be your resolution for 2017. A version of it is mine.
One of my favorite versions of this story is Englishman Roger Bannister’s running of the world’s first sub-four minute mile. Running that fast was supposed to be physically impossible—even death-defying. Mr. Bannister wasn’t considered to be the man who would do it. He had always been a fast runner, but not the world’s best. He was studying to be a doctor—a huge time commitment—so his training wasn’t as intense as perhaps it could have been. And he considered retirement from the sport altogether after a disappointing Olympics.
However, in spite of all of this, Mr. Bannister ran a mile in 3:59.4 in 1954. His record fell 46 days later. He’d cleared away that mental barrier for himself and others willing to give it a try. These days, talented high school students run a mile that fast.
I have an autographed photo of Mr. Bannister’s record-breaking moment on my wall. It reminds me to never let mental barriers—either my own or others—get the best of me. It visually chastises me when I think or say the words “can’t,” “shouldn’t,” or “won’t”—either about others or myself. It also tells me that the world’s mental barriers don’t really apply to any of us.
So this time of year, which is holy to many and when resolutions abound, I have your rowing resolution all prepared:
Dear Novice Rower, never let barriers (however loving or thoughtful or “fact based” they may appear) stand in the way of your rowing greatness.
Happy holidays, and happy new year.