If you did it once, you can do it again
I was talking to a friend last week about how I feel like I’m always in a constant state of rebuilding my classes.
“What does that tell you?” he asked.
“Ha. That there’s some deep spiritual lesson I need to get about starting over?”
“No. Well, maybe, I dunno. That’s not my point,” he said. “You’re the common denominator every time you’ve rebuilt from the ground up and you haven’t just done it once. You’ve repeated your success multiple times.”
“I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say that I’ve repeated success multiple times,” I quipped.
“Ok,” he said, “objectively speaking, what you’re saying is you’ve rebuilt this one class in particular five separate times over the last six years and each time at different locations and with different people. Not only have you built something from the ground up once, you’ve done it multiple times – five to be exact. You’ve repeated your success over and over again. Do you even understand how remarkable that is?”
I sat quietly, trying to rationalize what he was saying.
He continued, “And, you haven’t just done it with this one class. Did you know anyone before you came to Fort Washington last year – did you bring your people with you?”
“And, you built your classes up to what size – I mean, you’re ranked what in the company?”
“11, but I’m not anymore…”
He stopped me, “If you can do it once, you can do it again. You’ve already proven you can do it.”
“Yeah but…” and I stopped. I had nothing. No rebuttal. No counter argument. There was something so powerful about what he said and looking back over the last six years, especially over the last year, nothing he said was inaccurate. Those were the facts. I simply hadn’t looked at each new venture of rebuilding in that light before. I hadn’t seen each time I had to start over and rebuild from the ground up – all the times I hadn’t simply been able to transplant my already existing tribe – as anything more than a shit sandwich that I was required to eat. If I wanted to teach, if I wanted community and connection, I had to suck it up and dig my heels in. I saw it as a challenge and something I was up against rather than a skillset I possessed in creating my own success. I overlooked my talent, grit and drive.
If you can do it once, you can do it again.
That’s not to say encores are easy. They’re not. Repeated success is tough, not to mention it comes with a hefty price. Even more, what got us the success the first time around, isn’t always what’s needed the second or third time. But the reality is this: if you’ve experienced success in some area of your life – whether we’re talking about work or love or hitting a new deadlift weight – you can do it again.
Two Traps That Keep Us Stuck From Repeating Success
The “What’s Next?” Attitude
When we’re starting out on a goal or project, it’s not uncommon to exert an enormous amount of time, energy and resources. By the time we hit success, we’re either burnt out and wanting to ride the wave of our accomplishments, or we’re already looking for what’s next.
Most of us fall into the later. We equate our drive to discover new things, take risks and move things to the next level as what got us “here”, but once we “arrive” we’re already onto the next challenge. Instead of taking time to celebrate our success, refine the process or even figure out how we got here, we’re asking, “What’s next?”
For me, this is an easy attitude to get sucked into because I want to be able to calculate every possible option and path, to navigate whatever comes my way. But the problem with that is nothing is ever certain, so trying to plan for what I can’t know is a moot point and when I’m busy worrying about how to plan for the unplannable, I miss out on celebrating what I have already accomplished.
Celebrate what got you here and allow yourself to be in the experience of what you’ve created.
Sometimes setting the bar too high for the first time – whether it was intentional or unintentional – creates what’s known as expectation anxiety. We worry we won’t be able to reach the same level again the second (or third) time around.
Leaving Fort Washington in March and coming to Ardmore was exactly that for me. Without intentionally meaning to, I had set the bar real high: classes of 40-86 people, ranked 11 in the company, and the most attended instructor in my club. And when I came to Ardmore, I had to start all over again.
When you win the gold medal for the first time, you’re stoked. The second time, you’re nervous because there’s more at stake. There’s more you think you have to prove and do to stay on top. It’s what’s known as the “returning champ” syndrome. And, even if you do end up on top again, it doesn’t stop the cycle of expectation anxiety – it actually fuels more of it. The more you achieve, the more pressure there is. The higher you raise the stakes, the higher they are the next time around.
Shift expectation to appreciation. Tell yourself, “I’m not going to give up my happiness over the little stuff. I’m not going to obsess about the things I can’t control. I’m going to focus on what I can do and what’s good around me right now.”
If you can do it once, you can do it again.
Serena Williams doesn’t say, “I won that match. No more.” Van Gogh didn’t say, “Eh, I made that one great painting. I’m going to go back to selling stuff.” J.K. Rowling, after writing her first Harry Potter book, wasn’t like, “Nah, that’s enough story. I’m gonna cash out now. I don’t have anything left.”
Each found more. Each did it once and so they knew (or at least were willing) to give it a go again.
Finding success and repeating success requires us to shift our beliefs about what success looks like (don’t be afraid to dream bigger) and our ability to reach it (you have to believe you can). Beyond that, we have to find ways to objectively measure our success. In my conversation with my friend, everything he said was objectively true. I couldn’t objectively argue my ranking, class sizes or the amount of times I rebuilt from the ground up. Subjectively I could tell you that it wasn’t as good as someone else or that I could have done more, but when I take my emotion and perception out of it, the facts were the facts and the facts were pretty damn impressive.
Start to get curious about what’s working for you and contributing to your success. Do you get more hits on your website or LinkedIn? What were the strategies or tools you used to grow your business, find the relationship or increase your deadlift weight?
Each time you hit a peak point, find more. Each time you’re starting over, remember that you have found more before and then dig deep within yourself and find it again.
And – if after reading all this you’re still telling yourself that you haven’t succeeded at anything yet (while I doubt that is true), the good news is, you get to celebrate your first one 😉