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! :)