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You don't know what you don't know

Posted on 18 November 2013

Guest post: Vie Activist Elisha Elliott

My favourite saying has always been 'you don't know what you don't know'. It resonates for being simple, logical and relevant in so many areas of life. Most often, due to my profession, I relate it to training; my clients will hear me repeat it during the workout in the hope it'll  encourage them to be more open to variety and more true to themselves.

Because you don't know if you can breathe a little deeper, lunge a little lower or plank a little longer if you never try. In training, and also in life, we set ourselves mental roadblocks; a stop sign put up right at the edge of our comfort zone and it's around there that we cruise. Sure, often we don't realise it (again, you don't know what you don't know, right?!) and stick with a certain weight to lift, distance to run or speed to cycle. We work out. We sweat. The End. But, is it enough? Are you feeling stronger? Leaner? Faster?

I've been lucky enough in my life to have two amazing coaches, one who mentored my Pilates Instructor Trainer journey and one for my athletic endeavours and they each taught me something I like to pass on.

My work mentor taught me there is beauty in failure. That trying and not succeeding is the path to greatness; as if you're not willing to fail, you cannot learn from your mistakes, and that is the only way to become truly great. His lesson was obviously geared at my teaching abilities, but has far wider applications, and I always seem to hear his voice when I'm at CrossFit training. After falling out of a handstand 100 times, it's tempting to give up. Or, knowing I'm not great at them, I won't want to try at all. But, I remind myself that being willing to fail, and fall, will prepare me to succeed. That practice does make perfect. And that I don't know what I don't know; maybe I won't fall down the 101st time I try.

The other invaluable lesson I learnt was from my gymnastics coach. After a particularly brutal session to prepare me for a fitness competition, he told me the strength I was lacking was not muscular, but mental. I can be my own worst enemy and when things get tough (like in handstand practice!) I want to give up. But, when out body is tired and wants to quit, it's the mind that keeps us going. Apparently, when our body is saying 'NO MORE', we actually have 60% more reserve in the tank. We think we're at our limit, but in fact we're not even half way. So, I think; you don't know what you don't know. I didn't know how much more potential I had. I didn't know I could do the demanding things he asked.

And the beauty of discovering that is priceless. 

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