I’m in the employee lounge last week eating lunch, when a coworker (who is “really into fitness”) asks about my upcoming certification tests. There are a handful of other people listening in. I enthusiastically start to share about my upcoming trip to Colorado,( to learn how to coach and perform Olympic lifts), until I see his face scrunch with disapproval.
He interrupts me, “ Oh wow, I totally disagree with that. You shouldn’t be Olympic lifting and that just puts your clients in danger.”
I feel all the eyes in the room on me... as everyone awaits my response.
I am known to “splotch” when talking about something I’m passionate about...and I can feel heat creeping up my chest. I start to remember why I don’t normally share this information with people. But he directly asked, so I answered his statement with a question.
“You think Olympic lifting is dangerous?”
“Yes! It puts people at extreme risk of injury. I never have any of my clients do that...most I don’t have lift heavy weights at all.” He exclaims.
“So, you have clients?” I ask, as last I remembered he is not a certified trainer.
“Well I’m not certified, but I’ve had a lot of clients over the years. Since I workout so much, people ask me for help and then I end up training them. There is just no reason for it. It’s too risky” He answers.
I look around the room, and confirm that everyone really is staring right at me. I can feel the heat traveling up my neck. I take a moment to find the right words.
“ I am getting this certification to further my own training, and I have been physically preparing for over a year. Weight lifting is only dangerous if you have not been trained, or if your trainer is untrained in the lifts they are having you do. I am going to be trained by coaches skilled in the lifts...at our nation’s Olympic Training Center.”
“Well, the only thing a certification does for you is give you an increased risk of getting sued. Since I’m not certified, I can say whatever I want to people and they can’t sue me.” He says.
And that’s when it hit me....
This guy isn’t in the arena with me.
He’s watching from the stands.
I’m preparing for battle, and this guy is just heckling me.
I changed the subject of conversation.
A couple month’s ago I came across some lectures from Brene Brown. She talks about “the critic”, who sits safely in the stands, rather than go into the arena themselves. There is a quote she uses from Theodore Roosevelt.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt
There will always be a critic. There will always be someone who passes judgement on what you are doing to better your life. There will always be someone who lives in fear, and tries to spread that fear to you.
It could be as simple as someone judging what’s in your lunch box.
It could be someone telling you the 20 minutes you just walked or ran on the treadmill was a “waste of time”.
It could be someone telling you that lifting weights is “dangerous” for your joints, or that it will “make you look like a man.”
Many times, if you look at the person who is criticizing you, they aren’t even participating in the same thing as you. Why should their opinion matter, if they aren’t even attempting to do what you are doing?
But what I find more often, is the critic who pretends to be an “expert”.
These “experts” spread fear, as a result of not being well trained or knowledgeable about the subject they are speaking of. They take it upon themselves to share information, and often deliver that message as a judgement.
A true expert knows that there are different ways to get to a result, and they only give judgment when given the authority to speak to you. They will not just spew the information on you, without you asking for it.
What do I say to people doing “silly” exercises in the gym, instead of lifting (like I would do)?
Nothing...they are there exercising...that’s all that matters. I am thrilled to see them there.
(If they ask for help with their programs, I will gladly give it.)
What do I say when I see people eating “unhealthy” around me?
Nothing...I just mind my business and eat my lunch. If they want to know what I think they should eat for lunch, they will often ask me.
What do I say to people who only come in to workout for 20 minutes?
“Good job! I’m glad you made it today”. Many times they will ask me how to make that 20 minutes more effective.
The next time you are confronted by a critic ( who is not in your fight and/or has no authority to speak over you), remember that the credit goes to YOU.
You are the one who chooses who you give authority to speak over your life.
You are the one on the path to a healthy lifestyle that works for you.
If they have not been invited to speak over you, or they are just heckling you (because they are too weak to join the fight), then whatever comes out of their mouth is invalid.
...and if they have drawn the attention of an entire room during their judgement...do your best to exit gracefully. It makes them look more foolish that way. :)
Above all, be strong and “dare greatly”!