4 Reasons Why Competing in Crossfit Will Help Boost Your Professional Growth

Most people think Crossfit is a cult.  Think what you want about Crossfit. If you drank the kool-aid, you may know that Crossfit's infancy was back in 2007 on the west coast.  Over a few years, Crossfit gained momentum to disrupt the global fitness industry.   

My first Crossfit competition in April 2013.

My first Crossfit competition in April 2013.

I have been part of this fun and inspiring community since 2012.  Once you get inspired by your fellow Crossfitters, you may get inspired to do a Crossfit competition. Crossfit and competitions are not only for the most elite athletes that you see showcased at the Crossfit Games.  Regular people, like myself, do Crossfit competitions too.

After a two-year hiatus from competing, I decided to participate in the recent Crossfit Bettendorf Invitational in January.  I have competed in eight competitions with a different team members and partners.  Each time I compete, I learn something new about myself.  

Competing at the Christmas Classic, December 2014.

Competing at the Christmas Classic, December 2014.

 

Today, whether attending college or working your way up the corporate ladder there is emphasis on the ability to work in a team.  Accomplishing projects and goals are completely different in a team environment where you are all dependent on each other's success.  Competing again, especially on this four-person team environment, made me aware of some great lessons and take aways that apply to anyone looking to grow both personally and professionally.

Competing in Springfield, Illinois at Rock 'n Wod, October 2014.

Competing in Springfield, Illinois at Rock 'n Wod, October 2014.

Competing most recently in the Crossfit Bettendorf Invitational, January 2017. Photo Credit: Jay Strief

Competing most recently in the Crossfit Bettendorf Invitational, January 2017.

Photo Credit: Jay Strief

 

4 Life Lessons You Will Learn After Competing in Crossfit

1 - COMMUNICATION IS KEY

 

Communication is a two-way street between the communicator and the listener.  It is important to know what communication style you have and how that style fits with the other team members. 

Both verbal and non-verbal communication is important to support your team. I admit that during the heat of the competition, although my intentions are to be encouraging, my non-verbal communication can sometimes show frustration or stress.  

Ellen and I working through the partner kettle bell swings and GHD sit ups.  Photo Credit: The Beardsleys

Ellen and I working through the partner kettle bell swings and GHD sit ups.  Photo Credit: The Beardsleys

 

Advice: Know how to motivate your team members through impactful verbal and non-verbal communication.  Learn what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.

 

Photo Credit: The Beardsleys

Photo Credit: The Beardsleys

 

2 - SPILT- MINUTE DECISIONS ARE GAME CHANGING

In fact, studies performed by Sheena Iyengar at Columbia University found that Americans make an average of 70 decisions each day. (Source) That's a lot of decision making!  Entrepreneurs are known for being decisive and having the ability to develop quick decision making.  

Crossfitter Derek from Aberrant Crossfit.  Photo Credit: The Beardsleys

Crossfitter Derek from Aberrant Crossfit.  Photo Credit: The Beardsleys

Over the span of each workout there were many times when our team had to make spilt minute decisions based on the situation.  You never know how you or your team members will feel or how you will perform on competition day.  In 2014, one of my team members had the flu the morning of the competition and was unable to compete.  My other team member and I decided we would still compete in the three-person competition with just two people. 

The only two-person team at the Heartbreakers Crossfit competition, February 2014. Partner Jessica and I had so much fun and were 'quick on our feet' to revise the game plan. 

The only two-person team at the Heartbreakers Crossfit competition, February 2014. Partner Jessica and I had so much fun and were 'quick on our feet' to revise the game plan. 

Not diving too deep into personalities, being Type A personality makes me love having a plan. 

Photo Credit: http://www.simplypsychology.org/

Photo Credit: http://www.simplypsychology.org/

Going into the day of competition, my team had a plan on the pre-announced workouts.  However, it is a huge benefit if your team can be 'quick on their feet'. Literally and figuratively.  

Team member Keaton on the barbell in WOD 1.  Photo Credit: The Beardsleys

Team member Keaton on the barbell in WOD 1.  Photo Credit: The Beardsleys

During the competition, there were quite a few times when we had to be agile and make adjustments.  Thankfully, my team members were great at communication and the ability to act 'on the fly'.  

Team member Ellen 'flying' during WOD 3 where we had to make quick adjustments!  Photo Credit: Jay Strief

Team member Ellen 'flying' during WOD 3 where we had to make quick adjustments!  Photo Credit: Jay Strief

Advice: Having a plan is good.  

Being able to 'roll with the punches' when things change is better. 

 

3 - KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES. MORE IMPORTANTLY, KNOW YOUR TEAM'S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES.

When thinking about doing a team competition, of course you want to have fun.  It is natural to strike up a conversation with your friends and favorite gym peeps.  It may not be a priority to win or place well, especially if it is your first competition.  Whether putting together a team for your first Crossfit competition or in a professional setting, you should identify strengths of each potential team member so you can play to them.  

Team member Ellen dominating 'Heavy DT' WOD 4.  Photo Credit: Jay Strief

Team member Ellen dominating 'Heavy DT' WOD 4.  Photo Credit: Jay Strief

Crossfit competitors hanging out at the Crossfit Bettendorf Invitational.  Photo Credit: The Beardsleys

Crossfit competitors hanging out at the Crossfit Bettendorf Invitational.  Photo Credit: The Beardsleys

Team member Ellen and I before competing!  Photo Credit: The Beardsleys

Team member Ellen and I before competing!  Photo Credit: The Beardsleys

Team dinner the night before the Crossfit Bettendorf Invitational!  Photo Credit: Whitney :)

Team dinner the night before the Crossfit Bettendorf Invitational!  Photo Credit: Whitney :)

I was fortunate to have a great team with my friends who happen to all have different strengths.  We complimented each other very well in regards to Crossfit competition standards for the Invitational.   

Top 3 RX teams (L to R: Crossfit Bettendorf, QCCF Motown, 1031 Fitness) at the 2017 Crossfit Bettendorf Invitational.   Photo Credit: Jay Strief

Top 3 RX teams (L to R: Crossfit Bettendorf, QCCF Motown, 1031 Fitness) at the 2017 Crossfit Bettendorf Invitational.  

Photo Credit: Jay Strief

Not sure what strengths you should be playing to?  I would strongly encourage you to read theGallup's Strength Based Leadership book and take the StrengthsFinder assessment.  You can purchase here.  The book identifies three keys to being a more effective leader:

- knowing your strengths and investing in others' strengths

- getting people with the right strengths on your team

- understanding and meeting the four basic needs of those who look to you for leadership.

 

Advice: Know How to identify your strengths and how you will contribute to your team. 

 

4 - ADMIT TO FAULTS AND LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES

As much as you can prepare before a Crossfit competition or a big executive meeting, there will be mistakes.  Although it is hard to hear, mistakes and failures are opportunities.  The ability to reflect on situations and embrace the mistake is a core component of leadership growth.

Crossfit Competition Bettendorf Iowa Moline Illinois

There was a moment in the competition where I miscalculated the weight for my bar for the max snatch lift.  Initially I was not sure what was off, but I knew something was not right based on the weight of the bar.  After realizing what happened, I took full responsibility and apologized to my team for the poor attention to detail.  Taking this as an opportunity, I realized I need pay more attention to details under pressure. 

 

Jeff Wiener, LinkedIn's CEO,  borrowed this simple phrase from Coach K of the Duke Blue Devils.  And it’s two words: “next play.”  Whether you just took the lead from the opposing team with a perfect three-point shot or you lost the ball to your opponent, don't linger too long on what just took place.  Take a moment to reflect what just happened and then move on to the "next play". 

Crossfit Competition Bettendorf Iowa Moline Illinois

 

WHY DO I SHARE ALL OF THIS WITH YOU?

Well first, I want to encourage anyone who is interested in competing in a Crossfit competition to seriously consider finding a team and signing up.  Crossfit competitions are not just for elite athletes.  

Photo Credit: Sam Braverman Photography

Photo Credit: Sam Braverman Photography

Second, it is inspiring how many great lessons can be learned from participating in a Crossfit competition.  If you have competed before in a Crossfit competition, I am sure you can relate.  If you have not yet, I hope you find this inspiring.  As we approach the 2017 Crossfit Open, you may be able to learn other lessons beyond the ones I have shared. 

Huge thank you to the Crossfit Bettendorf community who volunteered during the Invitational. #CFBstrong Thank you to Jay Strief, the Beardsleys, and Sam Braverman Photography Photos Credit: Jay Strief

Huge thank you to the Crossfit Bettendorf community who volunteered during the Invitational. #CFBstrong

Thank you to Jay Strief, the Beardsleys, and Sam Braverman Photography

Photos Credit: Jay Strief

Lastly, I am not an expert. I am continuously learning myself.  However, this blog is inspired by my moments to help inspire your moments.  If one person learns something new from my experiences, I have succeeded.

 

Collect your moments and share them with me! 

Can you relate to some things mentioned above after competing in a Crossfit competition?

What other lessons have you learned from competing in a Crossfit competition?

Comment below.

 

 

 

What Feels Like the End is Often the Beginning!

Caitlin Elizabeth Bridal and Alterations

Many people do not know the story behind Caitlin Elizabeth Bridal and Alterations.  So I'll share...

My mother actually taught me how to use her sewing machine in high school.  I never had home economics or any formal training.  After graduation from Western Illinois University in December 2008, I struggled to land a job.  As many of my fellow 2008 classmates, it took time for the job market to strengthen.  While randomly working part-time jobs, I decided to take a leap and try something different.  I contacted a local seamstress that I knew during my childhood and asked to shadow her bridal alteration business.  Over a course of 12 months, I learned an array of skills from bridal garment construction to properly fitting a garment.  Once I started my full-time career in 2010, I decided to continue doing bridal alterations as a hobby.  Little did I know it would morph into what I have today.  

In 2009, I spent my days shadowing a local bridal seamstress in Davenport, Iowa. 

In 2009, I spent my days shadowing a local bridal seamstress in Davenport, Iowa. 

Every year since, my business expanded -- and that was not by mistake. I worked very hard to strategically grow my business, my brand, my client base, and my relationships -- both in person and online.  Each year got better and better; bigger and bigger; and ultimately more demanding.  As flattering as it was to have people demanding my services, it was very clear that this year I had to make a decision. 

Zion Canyon National Park

My clients were always shocked to learn that in addition to owning and operating Caitlin Elizabeth Bridal and Alterations, I also worked full-time.  I thoroughly enjoy working in digital and social media marketing, which is why I focused on both passions for more than six years.  Much of my success within my small business stemmed from things I learned both from my full-time career and MBA experiences through the University of Iowa.  Being one of many small business owners who also work full-time, I know the following dilemmas happens to many of my fellow girlbosses. 

  • Do I grow and pursue one career over the other? 
  • There are only so many hours in a day.  Do I limit my business inquiries? 
  • Where do I want to spend my talents and efforts?

 

After reviewing my priorities, my lack of work/life balance, and my career goals, I realized that I am not as committed to my small business as I am committed to my full-time marketing career.  The decision had been made! Caitlin Elizabeth Bridal and Alterations' last bride is getting married on December 31, 2016.

Dr Seuss Quote

As I close this chapter in my life, I have no regrets with the time I invested growing my business, building long-lasting relationships, and collecting experiences that only I could encounter as a small business owner.

 

With my business, I cannot define any real 'failures' as every experience was valuable to my professional and personal growth.  Although I had failures, it is more about going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.  

Tim Oreilly Inspirational Quote

 

Four key take-aways from my entrepreneurial journey:

 

Learning how to say 'yes' to saying 'no'

Although I wanted to help every bride, bridesmaid, and mother of bride who had an ill-fitting dress or wedding emergency, I just could not keep saying 'yes' to everyone.  The inability to say 'no' can hold you and your business back.  Taking on too much can cause mistakes and increased stress.  I slowly accepted the concept of saying 'yes' to one thing simply meant saying 'no' to somethings else.  There were times when I was not taking care of myself, therefore, I was lacking the ability to take care of others around me. 

 

By prioritizing, it is much easier to say 'yes' to things that really matter to me -- the things that reflect what I want, who I am, and what I believe in.

 

The customer comes first

My customer's journey may be a little different than other small businesses.  My customer, the bride, has spent:

  • a lifetime thinking about her wedding day.
  • months scouring the internet and visiting bridal boutiques to find the perfect wedding dress.
  • weeks preparing herself to leave her beautiful wedding dress with a total stranger -- the trusted seamstress.

 

In the bridal industry, it is always about the customer.  My business was very customer-focused.  Every bride envisioned 'beauty' in her own unique way and it was important to make sure she felt confident and beautiful in her eyes.  Unlike some bridal vendors, I was fortunate to spend a significant amount of time with my clients to build personable relationships over a period of months.  I got all the details including how she met her true love to every intricate wedding detail that still had to be planned. 

 

Brides sometimes do not always know how to communicate exactly what they want, but active listening and communication allowed me to successfully and repeatedly have happy clients.  I strongly believe that this skill is essential for any professional.  I am proud of the 50+ five-star reviews on Facebook and Square accumulated over just the last few years.  These authentic and transparent reviews share why I always put my customers first!

 

Successful Entrepreneurs can't do it alone

One of my favorite aspects of being a small business owner is the community!  Networking and building relationship comes natural to me.  I am fortunate for the amazing relationships with both bridal and non-bridal business owners across the country.  I valued the strong support system of others who were experiencing the same hurdles, questions, and journey as myself.  In 2015, an international movement, the Rising Tide Society, was risen and helped me meet even more creative entrepreneurs and small business owners.  I loved -- and still love -- their foundation of 'community over competition'.

 

As I transition, I expect to continue being a resource for others who want to invest in growing their social media and digital presence.  As my full-time career has allowed me to be an expert in this space, I look to continue supporting small businesses.  

The best part of owning a small business is the community!  I met so many talented creative entrepreneurs. 

The best part of owning a small business is the community!  I met so many talented creative entrepreneurs. 

 

BE passionate about what you do

It is not all about money. Yes, money is a great perk. However, the time I was investing into every aspect of running my business -- in addition to the time spent behind the sewing machine -- just did not outweigh the life I was missing.  I realized as much as I loved the work I did, the relationships I have built, and the experiences I lived, I was not as passionate about this work.

A lesson from my Leadership and Personal Development course in my MBA reminds me that if you truly love what you’re doing, the work won’t seem like a burden and your passion will shine through in your day-to-day life. 

Photo Credit: Claire Ryser of Visionaire Studios (Kansas City, MO)

Photo Credit: Claire Ryser of Visionaire Studios (Kansas City, MO)

 

What does Caitlin's future look like?

Passion is the difference between having a job and having a career.

Looking into the future, I am excited to dedicate more time to my full-time career.  I am very passionate about digital and social technology and how it has changed -- and will continue to change-- the way we live, communicate, build relationships, operate, educate, etc.  

Ireland Europe Trip 2016

I look forward to spending more time with my current hobbies -- and adding more to my list -- including photography, blogging, traveling, and energized lifestyle activities like hiking, Crossfit, rock climbing (thanks to my brother), and cycling. 

Hanging with my brother, Ian, at Brooklyn Boulder Chicago!

Hanging with my brother, Ian, at Brooklyn Boulder Chicago!

Thank you to everyone who ever supported my dreams.  I am so lucky to have you in my life and your support will never be forgotten. 

Signing off! As always, thanks for reading.