Recently I found myself in an interesting state between being challenged and the natural flow state. I do love both states but only in their extremes. I either go deep into a challenge where I can’t do anything but swim or drown or, I am in a pure state of flow; where I work with ease and flow through tasks like I would binge through episodes of House of Cards. But a few weeks ago I was kind of experiencing both at the same time.
In this particular situation, I wanted to be challenged. I knew that I could always slip back into the focused work mindset – this would come from just saying no to things. I had also been on the flow for a while and I was truly craving that dramatic process of challenge.
So all I was asking myself and writing in my journal was – what could I possibly do to shift my lifestyle toward a challenge?
And then I had it.
You know how in a traditional movie you have a hero overcoming a challenge – well if you think about who usually places that challenge there in the first place – you realise that for every hero, there is a villain… and that’s exactly what I needed.
For me to overcome a challenge and become the knight in shining armour (or hero), I had to have a villain. So I went on my mission to seek out one.
That very night, I was in the gym deadlifting about 55KG. For a late night workout and at that point in my training session – this was heavy weight. But then I noticed the guy next to me lifting 80KG… you know where this is going. Don’t worry, I didn’t just stupidly smack on another 25KG and tare my hamstring trying to lift the weight off the ground – but I did have someone to beat… a villain. That week, every night I was in the gym, he was there – but not as another gym goer, but as an evil villain who was going to steal the princess and was going to kill my parents. Since I’m not Super Mario nor Batman, I had to resort to just beating him at deadlift training.
Over the past 3 weeks, I have been deadlifting more than ever. I had even taken up sumo-deadlifting for days in which I hadn’t the full strength the doing a standard deadlift. Would you like to know how much weight I now deadlift with?
70KG. Sh*t. I’m still 10KG away from matching his weight, let alone beating it. I suck! But… at this reflective moment, I don’t look at how I have been beaten, but rather look back at how much I have improved overtime. In a short 3 weeks, I have upped my deadlift training. I’ve improved in an area that I had previously stagnated and put into routine. Choosing a villain to destroy gifted me with someone to push me harder and gave me more of a chance to succeed. Choosing a villain is also temporary, once I have passed his weight, I’ll be choosing another villain who can lift more than me to try and destroy.
It does depend on the type of person you are, (as some people don’t work very well through being pushed) but for those who like being challenged and demanded more from, I highly recommend finding a villain – this could be someone at your uni, your work or at your gym. Remember it’s not limited to people you know also! As crazy as it sounds, I sometimes race random people on the street on my walk to the station. I like getting places promptly, and I know that beating this one random lady who is walking briskly, 5 steps ahead of me, will give me the temporary feeling of success and will push me to get on a train I may have previously missed if I hadn’t beaten the midli-paced lady.
Challenge yourself this week: find an villain. And more importantly: crush them!
I leave you with a great and hilariously appropriate quote from the first episode of House of Cards: “I almost pity him. He didn’t choose to be put on my platter.”