How do you spot the Spartan in a random fitness class? Start by looking in the back. It might seem backwards, by let me explain how pushing through uncomfortable situations and failure to success is the best way to grow.
It's OK to be the worst in the class. It's actually a great idea to experience it often. A Spartan learns continuously. A Spartan attitude accepts that it’s not about being better than someone else. It's about being better tomorrow than you are today. Because of this, a Spartan should feel comfortable being somewhere uncharacteristic or not routine.
Related: 5 Reasons Why Failure Is Good for You
So get your ass to participate in something that you are curious about — even if you know absolutely nothing about it. Whatever comes to mind as the hardest thing to you, might be a great place for you to start. So, set some time aside to check that out.
From Wrestling Failure to Overall Success
Allow me the indulgence of a story. My senior year of high school, I got the bright idea of joining the wrestling team with zero experience. I was just learning Kung Fu and Tai Chi, and I was like, what the hell, the school offers a related activity to the martial arts. So, I figured I should take advantage of free classes.
I had no expectations with wrestling varsity. I was there to learn, be humble, have fun and build my fitness. Then, there were a bunch of injuries around my weight class. Ultimately, I had to wrestle varsity almost every match, otherwise, we would forfeit my weight class.
Well, shit. It was the most unfortunate fortunate thing that could have happened to me.
Let me explain high school wrestling culture. Within wrestling families, kids start practicing wrestling before they can walk. They start organized wrestling as early as kindergarten. By high school, varsity wrestlers are well-trained. They instinctually do the things I was working to gain basic competence in. High school wrestlers are well-oiled machines, where the top dogs are gunning for college and the Olympics.
I lost almost every single match — all but one. I got pinned a lot. But every so often I could go the distance and save our team some points. And one time I won a match in a tournament. These were great feelings. As for the abject humiliation of defeat over and over again in front of my peers and their families at wrestling matches? I got over it pretty quick. I was there to learn and help out where I could. With the right attitude, it was a fulfilling experience.
Being the worst kid on the team wasn't so bad, and I'm a far better wrestler now than I would be if I never tried.
Why It Pays to Be the Worst in the Room
I try to bring this attitude to new activities that intimidate me. When I suddenly feel last in class, I've learned to just embrace "last" as the most Spartan place to be. It's that simple. Success is about stacking up a string of failures. Because when you push past failure to success, you experience magical growth.
Look for the newbie in your yoga class or running group. Look for the clueless person in your cooking, chess, or foreign language class. The person struggling the most is probably the Spartan in the room. And, likely, if Spartans start to find themselves in the front of the class, it’s time for a new class, where they can get beat on in the back of the room once again.
Spartans don't need to keep taking victory laps at something they are great at. They immediately should start endeavoring in their weaknesses.