The Erg and the Key to Freedom: A Lesson in Positive Narration
As an elite rowing coach, I have experienced firsthand how changing the narrative can transform the way we view things. Today, while coaching, I realized that we have the ability to enjoy tasks, no matter how hard they might be, if we choose to tell ourselves a different story.
Consider the rowing machine, or “erg.” The name alone doesn’t exactly inspire joy. To many, an erg is a four-letter word synonymous with grueling hard work. However, what if we chose to view the erg differently? What if, instead, we named it “the key to freedom”? Suddenly, a monotonous workout becomes an empowering journey, a ticket to the college of our dreams, or an opportunity to join an elite rowing program.
It’s all about perspective. Every task or challenge we encounter, regardless of our career or lifestyle, can benefit from a touch of positivity or humor. Even the most taxing workout on the erg can be approached with a mindset of, “Wow, that was tough, but I loved feeling the burn, and I survived it!” This is where gallows humor can be beneficial – finding the funny side of even the most daunting situations can make them easier to bear, and ultimately more likely for us to tackle again.
Rowing is a fantastic way for people of all ages to stay fit, but it requires consistency and dedication. Programming our brains to associate positive stories with hard work can make it easier to maintain this healthy habit. One practical way to do this might be keeping a joke book next to the erg and reading a joke every 3000 meters. This simple act can serve as a fun distraction, a positive influx into our brains that we’ll remember forever.
Life, much like rowing, is about persistence. It’s about racking up the miles, getting back up when we stumble, and demonstrating resilience. However, the key to all this lies in the power of positive self-narration.
As a coach, I’ve always made it a point to see the silver lining in every cloud. I strive to help my rowers see the positive outcomes of their journey. My goal is to inspire these young athletes to think positively and understand that their hard work is an adventure filled with challenges, victories, and valuable experiences.
The erg score is not merely a number – it’s a reflection of their efforts and a stepping stone towards achieving their goals, like getting recruited to the college of their choice. I believe that by instilling a positive mindset, we can accomplish what might seem impossible at first.
My mother always told me in Swiss German, “Yes, you can do it. If you put your mind to it, you can do it.” Her words have stayed with me and shaped my approach to life and coaching. As we face life’s challenges – whether it’s cold weather, choppy waters, or a grueling workout on the erg – let’s remember to smile and say to ourselves, “It might hurt, but I’m going to survive it.”
After all, the key to freedom is all about positive narration.