Hard Work (continues to) Pay Off
As Crossfit fans among our readership know, last week was the annual Crossfit Games, where qualifiers from around the world converge upon Madison, Wisconsin to compete in a multi-day fitness competition designed to find the “fittest on earth”.
We always enjoy the coverage for this event, which showcases the athletes’ feats of physical strength, agility and endurance, while promoting some good old-fashioned primal competition.
This year, the men’s competition was particularly entertaining, as for most of the weekend, it was unclear if perennial fan favorite and typical front runner – Mat Fraser – would find a way to come from behind and secure the win. Spoiler alert – he did, and on Sunday became a 4-time champion in a very exciting final day of competition.
In 2017, we wrote about Fraser’s HWPO mantra – which stands for Hard Work Pays Off, as it is a mindset we admire and endorse. Interestingly, HWPO was not always the way for Fraser. Having great natural athletic ability and competitive drive, at the beginning of his career, he could basically just show up and win without too much effort. Using this strategy, he got a silver medal at the Games in 2014, which he viewed with a sense of accomplishment. Then, in 2015, heralded as the future of the sport, he finished second – again – and this time it came with an incredible sense of disappointment. From a CNN interview:
“I hated my 2015 medal. That second place to me it just represented the cut corners, the slacking off, the thinking I could out-train a bad diet, you know, simple stuff like that… So for a long time, I hated that medal, it kept me up at night. It was a source of disappointment. Now I wouldn’t trade that medal for anything.”
This is what we find fascinating about champions – when most people might be happy being on the podium for two years in a row, Fraser’s reaction was exactly the opposite. He adapted to new conditions, adopted the HWPO mantra, and introduced a disciplined focus on his training, diet, and recovery. As the results of the past four years have shown, the change has paid off. Fraser again:
If I had won in 2015 while carrying those bad habits, I would’ve kept those bad habits. I would’ve thought I could do this while eating terribly. I can do this while training sporadically. But now I realize that after three years in a row of breaking my own record of margin of victory, that would have never happened without that incredibly disappointing loss.
Most of the time, change is forced upon us in either the personal, business, or athletic realms by external forces and met with resistance. We admire Fraser’s attitude because we know how rare it is to change habits – somewhat radically in his case – in the face of what most of the world would consider to be a success – and to stay committed to those changes for not days or weeks, but for years. And as Fraser showed us last weekend, the fruits of those adjustments continue to compound, showing us all that Hard Work (continues to) Pay Off.