Friday, April 11, 2008

Some Interesting stuff to chew on and some serious perspective-changing reading!

So, I've been wiling away time on this lazy morning perusing the Rivendell Reader. Normally, I find Grant's ramblings entertaining, sometimes perplexing and often "not for me". Though, I have drunk the Rivvy juice in terms of riding with a higher handlebar. I really don't care if I look like a Phred on my racing bike. All of you who think zero-rise stems are the only way to go, well, I don't care. My back doesn't hurt anymore and I can breathe and see what's going on around me. Anyway, enough of that!

There are two articles in this edition that are fascinating. Neither is by Grant, but that's OK.

The first, which is the one that is interesting to chew on, occurs on pages 15-17. It's called "The Primal Blueprint: Maximizing through Moderation", by Mark Sisson. It has shades of the Paleo Diet. However, the article actually delves into training and our human evolution. It basically proposes that we are designed to go VERY slow (think walking and zone 1 riding) for long periods of time with occasional "balls out" sprinting efforts. It suggests that long hours of high-aerobic and threshold work actually make us age more quickly, because our bodies have not evolved to that type of effort. And, that endurance athletes are killing themselves just as quickly as the couch potatoes. FYI, this dude was a serious endurance athlete and coach for many years. So, some interesting food for thought.

The seriously perspective-changing article is one on pages 24-27 entitled "How Not to Talk to Your Children - the Inverse Power of Praise" by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. This is intended as a parenting article, which I would normally read the first paragraph of and then dismiss as completely irrelevant. But, this one sucked me in. It really helped me understand my own psychology in how I approach racing and some other things in life. Basically, it proposes that praising kids for "being smart" is counter-productive, because they underestimate the value of effort and give up on things that are hard and may make them appear dumb if they fail. Conversely, if you praise children for "trying hard" or give specific praise around something they did well or a good strategy, it empowers them because it puts the variable of effort within their control. I'm probably not doing the best job reiterating, so you should just go read the article.

In any case, there was an example of students who were half praised for smarts and half praised for efforts being given the option of taking a test and spending time after examining their performance against the others in the class or spending time after learning a new strategy that would help them next time. Guess which kids chose which? Yep, this explains a lot. I have a lot of natural abilities which I was praised for growing up, which is a great thing. However, I think I've been bred to ignore the power of effort and the learning process and only look at results. And, hence, I have given up too easily on things that are hard and make me appear dumb at first try. I want to be the person that takes time to learn new strategies rather than immediately focusing on how I did against the others. This is also true in my web development career, which is why I'm undergoing a bit of an identity crisis this year, but that's a topic for another post. :)

Anyway, I'm going to try to change my own outlook on competition and achievement. And, if you want to give me a compliment after a race, tell me something specific I did well, or give me something to learn. Please don't tell me I'm fast or strong. I'm now here to learn and improve, not compare myself to others and keep up appearances (at least that's what I'm telling myself). And, I need all the secret strategies I can get! :)


CyclistRick said...

Hmmm, let me see. I think I hear a voice telling you to not focus on results, but rather the process. Where was that coming from? Seriously, I think the change will make you happier, and ultimately more successful.

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

OH MY GOD! I've been having similar conversations (about the constant comparison & appearance of natural strength vs. the effort that goes into the sport) with many women over the last month. Do they have the newsletter online? I'd love to read that article.

chatterbox said...

Panda, we get the print version, but I'll see if we can download the PDF and send it to you. You might also see if it's available on their site.

Kimberly (aka. DrKim) said...

Chatterbox: Really interesting...and true. I must say that in my own experience, I feel much better when praised for my efforts rather than for a specific performance. Some of the races I feel best about are not those I won, but rather those where I achieved a much smaller goal, and feel like I learned something...and those feelings seem to last longer, as well. The wins fade quickly...but the improved mental state from achieving goals makes me yearn for the next race! Speaking of which..the island view crit is right around the corner :-) Yippeeee.

Good luck at Madera!!!

Velo Bella said...

yep...I am so this. Been working very hard on it. Trying to step out of my comfort zone and risking to fail. Its very hard, after a lifetime of behavior structured the other way.

Michael's actually helped me incredibly on this. In fact, I don't even think I was aware of this mentality holding me back, until he started giving me props for risk taking.

For instance, I totally SUCKED at the track on Wednesday. I put in some attacks that were so silly and went nowhere, and pretty much failed and i got almost last in the race. And Michael was overjoyed and all...ahem...lovey dovey with me after that because he was so pleased about my efforts, not the result.

Anyhoo, awesome to be so honest about something like this. Good luck!

Chris said...

Interesting way to look at things.

Katie Kelly said...

I am so glad that I stumbled upon this. You've put into words something I've been thinking about lately, but I could never put words around it.

velogirl said...

I'm always very proud of you, Sarah. You're a very wise woman.

chatterbox said...

dr. Kim, thanks for sharing from your experience. I don't have any wins yet to see how it feels, but I can sense what you say is true.

vb - yes, I like Michael's philosophy. I can tell he prefers it when folks take risks and fail to when folks just play it safe. It's good you are starting to take risks. Eventually, the risk will come at the right time and will pay off!

katie - welcome! We met in the wee morning hours at Bariani when you were chatting with Kim Wik.

vg - thanks!

Sorry for my delay in responding everyone - we headed to Madera right after I put the post up! Good to see VB and Katie out there partaking in the suffering!

CyclistRick said...

Panda - if you cannot find a copy e-mail me and I will try to get one to you.

Ms. Chatterbox - try to remember this in light of this past weekend. You fought through some adversity (heat, seat problems, tire problems [the leaking rear tubular likely cost you some time on the TT]) but continued to work and improve on some core skills. And, very importantly, you learned to admit that there are times to withdraw and save yourself for later. Great job!

lauren said...

i read that parenting article somewhere, but can't remember where.

it's so true.

and so much more fulfilling when you can really look at your own self from that angle.

i'm so un naturally untalented at so many things and therefore very mediocre at everything - and i now kind of see it in my kids as well.

i'm trying HaRD to praise them and guide them for the hard work they do and the journey - rather then just the results.

lauren said...

being fulfilled is such a good feeling.

chatterbox said...

lauren - you are a wise parent. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

CyclistRick said...

Panda and all - the article is by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, and was originally published in New York magazine. The article is on-line here.

And the article focuses on research done mostly by Carol Dweck, who is now at Stanford and will be giving a talk on her research over on the farm on Apr. 30th.