Crossfit as a lens for starting a company


I’ve been CrossFitting for a little over 4 years now.  Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, has created a phenomenon that truly has the ability to elevate an individual’s potential.  The proof is in the pudding and the pudding is mixed with an equally effective MLM strategy (think Tupperware or Cutco) that has helped the business break through and go viral.  

More than just a workout routine, CrossFit incorporates a complex mental component into the training that, at the risk of totally bastardizing Glassman’s philosophies, is predicated on ridding the mind of cobwebs and engaging in personal competition.

I’ve been planning to post for a while about this as it relates to start-ups and the new dimensions it has added to my outlook and thinking, and Fred Wilson’s piece, Your Worst Enemy is Yourself, is a great spring board to jump off from.

startupsEveryday my Crossfit coach gets us to do things to which our gut reactions, both before and during the routine, scream “NO”.  He stresses that deep-seated expectations of failure and ineptitude are hard to break down, but that by slowly scraping away these “cobwebs”, we can conquer what is seemingly impossible.  He tells a girl in the class that she’ll soon be dead-lifting 250lbs; she scoffs, but is starting to realize that she will.  Every time we shrug at the Workout-of-the-Day (WOD), or at a weight he wants us to throw overhead, or at a stretch that looks impossible, coach holds his hand to his ear in the shape of a phone and says “the click here line is not there yet, and that’s ok”.  He, like the many others who have tapped into the CrossFit mantra, are firm believers in constantly pushing the limit and positive-think.  And equally as important is the imperative to always be looking forward; never back and not even side-to-side.

During a WOD, it is virtually impossible to not get distracted by how much faster/slower the person next to you is going or by how much more/less weight they are lifting.  However that momentary lapse in concentration is almost always counterproductive, as my recorded times and increasing experience are demonstrating.  If you can hold on to your mental toughness during a workout and keep eyes on the prize of beating a personal record (PR’s), you will excel.

The correlations to venture and entrepreneurship are easy to draw.  Every aspect of how we approach a situation and move from one moment to the next defines the outcome.  Moreover, there are hundreds of parallels that can be drawn from seemingly disparate activities in our daily lives (working out and building a business) that can help us to identify the cobwebs that impede success and thereby improve. Fred Wilson encourages us to enhance our tunnel focus on the goal in mind and avoid all the over-the-shouldering looking. My coach, in his own language, believes in the same values and just applies them to different activities.  Incorporating this advice into your daily routine can generate dramatic results and can start happening immediately; it’s all in the mind. So think positively, believe in yourself, break barriers, and find some way to experience it first hand and in your own way; or come to class tomorrow and start working on a business/project that you believe in next week.