Thursday, May 22, 2014

Jillian Michaels struggles to run a 9-minute mile

In a recent podcast, Jillian Michaels talks about how she has accepted that she will always "suck" at running. She just recently got back to being able to run a 9-minute mile. I'm sure many listeners, myself included, were surprised by that.* Her statement is making a broader point that we cannot or will not be great at everything, and some things we will just enjoy more than others. She makes the very good point that we have to give ourselves permission to suck at things, so that we can work at them and gradually get better.

However, I find it odd that Jillian often talks and writes in such a self-deprecating way. She says "I'm not an athlete" or clarifies by saying "I'm not a natural athlete." She highlights her weaknesses-- like running and not being "flexible." This from a person who has achieved wealth and worldwide fame by being a professional athlete and coach. She's easily in the top 1% of people in the world when it comes to fitness. Her entire M.O. is pushing people beyond their limits so they can achieve more than they thought possible. (Her co-host rightly chides her for the remarks.)

This reminds me of the recent article in The Atlantic by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman entitled "The Confidence Gap." Women, apparently worldwide, may be genetically predisposed to a lack of confidence when compared to men.


"(A recent study found) men initiate salary negotiations four times as often as women do, and that when women do negotiate, they ask for 30 percent less money than men do...women rated themselves more negatively than the men did on scientific ability...(even though) their average (exam score) was about the same...women were much more likely to turn down the opportunity (to compete)...Women feel confident only when they are perfect. Or practically perfect."

(Men also often fall into an insecurity trap, myself included.) 

One encouraging point, however, is when Jillian describes getting help from a trainer in doing a move she's tried for years to do but was yet unsuccessful. The trainer gives her a tip that is literally a 2-second fix and Jillian finds success-- and confidence. The trainer tells her she's one of the few women in the world who can do that move.

So, my questions for the day:
1. What are areas that you need to give yourself permission to "suck" at in order to gradually get better? 
2. Can you identify areas of your life that you irrationally consider your weaknesses, when actually you're strong and just deceiving yourself? What are ways to guard against a "confidence gap"?
3. What area(s) of actual weakness might you be able to find a quick-fix help for if you just ask someone?

*(I am not an avid runner but on Tuesday I ran under 9 mins, if you want a comparison). 

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