I’d like to believe that we’re all good at something. Some of us are even great at that something. It’s a source of good and positive confidence, self-belief, and even satisfaction to know this. But knowing we’re good/great at something also has a dark side: when it clouds our judgment and the ego takes over.
The Ego Bucket
I started CrossFit about three years ago. I was a relatively fit and strong guy at the time, and I was particularly proud of my gas tank; all I was devoted to prior to getting on the CrossFit bandwagon was long-distance running and football. I felt pretty confident that I could handle the basic, introductory class.
That class was when I met two coaches who introduced me to the idea of ‘the ego bucket.’ Coaches Anton and Jude didn’t start that class with a hi-hello, or a warmup. No – they started that class by asking us to ‘take our egos, and “leave it” in a bucket‘ before joining the class. This was a peculiar experience for me, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think of it as ‘one of those crazy things CrossFit people do.’
And so during my first day at a CrossFit box, I was forced to use a near-weightless PVC pipe in lieu of a barbell, and I was forced to cut the kettlebell weight I used in half. As soon as I felt the warm rush of blood to my cheeks (half from embarrassment, and half from taking offence at the perceived slight towards my fitness, if I’m being honest), the realisation of what the ego bucket was dawned on me.
It’s not about coming in a class already strong, or fast, or in possession of ridiculous PR numbers.
It’s about coming in a class, ready (and open) to learning.
The PVC pipe wasn’t for ‘demotion’; the coaches wanted us to prep properly with a harmless weight and a harmless tool – just in case.
The weight cut on the ‘bell wasn’t to diminish or to demotivate; the coaches wanted us, first-timers in their class, to finish the workout safely and with just the right amount of struggle and challenge.
The Ego Bucket Outside the Box
There are so many instances and situations in our lives where we can apply this healthy concept of having an ego bucket. I can think of three easy examples:
- Meetings with junior employees, especially the ones where they are supposed (or required) to share ideas or recommendations;
- Speaking with officials or people with authority, especially when they are attempting to communicate a rule, policy, or instruction to us; and
- Discussions with strangers or acquaintances, especially those who are particularly passionate and eloquent when talking about a topic.
There are many more, and they all speak of something in common: the fact is, we may not always know better, and every interaction with anyone is an opportunity to learn something new (or at least, validate an opinion we may have).
Being good or great at something is incredible. It’s the result of you and I spending money, brains, and most importantly time in order to achieve a certain (high) level. What we cannot afford to do is believe that there’s nothing further to learn from anyone else, that we ‘know it all.’ That’s a surefire way to crash and burn, sooner rather than later.
Being good or great at something demands something else of us, and that is the humility and enough self-belief that we can still be taught.
Go prep that ego bucket!
I first learned CrossFit at Primal Ape CrossFit, under the tutelage of Coach Anton Sietereales, Coach Jude Eslera, Coach Joanne Samson, Coach Trever Love, and Coach Zoe Pond-McPherson. It’s an incredible place to get fit, so check them out!