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Relaxed Power

I love watching masters. No, not the golf tournament, though I do occasionally turn on golf to help me sleep. And not the “mature” CrossFit athletes, of which I am one. I mean masters of their craft – artisans. When you read the word ‘artisan,’ you may think of sculptors or painters or chefs. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely masters in each of those crafts, but I’m talking about athletic artisans. Masters in the craft of whatever sport they play. Let’s take one of the greatest masters of all time, Michael Jordan. Jordan was an artisan in the sport of basketball. When he stepped on the court, he elevated the game of those around him and he magnified the weakness of every opponent. There were things Jordan could do that seemed impossible. But he would do them again and again and again. Night after night, game after game, Jordan would put on a show and let the whole world know he was a master of his craft. So, how did he make it look so easy? Simple, he played within himself. He played with relaxed power.

There are certain God given talents each of us is born with. Michael Jordan was gifted by God to play the sport of basketball. Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey have the gift of elite fitness. Yet all of us can learn to operate with relaxed power. Ask any high-level coach about training programs, and they’ll be quick to point out that elite athletes rarely go all out. Read that again – rarely go all out. Let me tell you what relaxed power is not. It’s not going all out in the gym every day. Do you really think that CrossFit games athletes show up to the gym every day willing to give whatever it takes in order to be at the top of some digital leaderboard? That sounds hilarious I know. And yet some of you reading this walk into your gym with this type of mindset every day. You’ve either yet to realize the bigger picture, or you’ve forgotten it. Relaxed power means operating within your capacity. What expands capacity? Discipline.

It’s hard to fully appreciate the discipline it takes to become an artisan. For every playoff game or competition, there have literally been years of choices leading up to that moment. What we view for a couple of hours they’ve been working on for decades. Discipline is the basis of power, and it’s what expands capacity. Fitness is simply increased work capacity, and discipline is what actually gets you there. Discipline means having a clearly articulated goal every time you walk in the gym. Dominating a leaderboard or doing a workout as prescribed no matter what are honestly weak goals. Next thing you know, you’re doing someone else’s workout and no longer training within yourself. You’ve lost discipline. As you prepare for 2021, spend some time reflecting on your “why.” Why are you coming to the gym? Why is fitness an important part of your life?

You also need to begin throttling your power. Jordan didn’t drive down the lane with the same intensity every time. He used the necessary power to achieve his outcome. You need to do the same. If you approach a light barbell the same way you approach a heavy one, you’re missing the whole point. Relaxed power means having some in reserve. There’s no way to build a reserve without developing the ability to throttle. At lower power outputs, there’s more time to focus on mechanics and movement patterns. That’s why great coaches give the same amount of attention to warming up their athletes as they do to urging them on in a WOD. Where are you applying more power than necessary? What mindset do you need to change in order to start throttling your power?

There are artisans of Spiritual Fitness as well. Masters in their craft of loving God and loving others. Not because God requires it, but rather they enjoy living life that way. And some of the things they do look so easy. They can walk into a room and brighten the mood of everyone in it. They can ask you an insightful question that makes you think they can see your soul. They can sit with you on some of your hardest days and bring a ray of hope. Masters of their craft. Their marriages, their careers, their kids, their friends are all expressions of their desire to pursue shalom. They make it look so easy. But discipline is also the basis of power in our spiritual lives. Much like discipline expands the capacity of physical fitness, spiritual discipline expands our capacity to live the fullest, richest, most fulfilling lives possible. I suspect almost all of you are about to sit down and write some goals, or resolutions, for 2021. This year, the number one spiritual resolution was, “Improve Mental Well-Being.” It was the fifth most popular resolution, the first four relating to losing weight or exercising. Improving mental well-being. If you really want to be your best self in 2021 and live the best year of your life, it’s time to build, enhance, or refine your spiritual habits. What’s in the way of a deeper relationship for you with God? At the end of the day, what do you think you really want out of life, and how will you know it’s happened?

Relaxed power - the ability to operate within your capacity. It’s essential to building both physical and spiritual fitness. When you see a master of their craft, they make it look so easy. Yet we know it was discipline in their lives that expanded their capacity to operate. What would life look like for you if at your most difficult moments you were completely relaxed? There are aspects of all our lives that need to change. Some of us need to throttle our power. Every situation does not require you to show up with the same intensity. Others of us need to rethink our goals. Loving God and loving others is at the root of human flourishing. Until we reorder our lives around these principles, we’ll never fully experience what it means to be alive.

Questions for Reflection:

Why is fitness an important part of your life?

Where are you applying more power than necessary? What mindset do you need to change in order to start throttling your power?

What’s in the way of a deeper relationship for you with God? At the end of the day, what do you think you really want out of life, and how will you know it’s happened?

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