An Ego Check for Improving Olympic Lifts

November 03, 2018

Photocredit: Crossfit Newmarket

So you want to learn the Olympic lifts.

What if you’re the reason you’re not improving?

Check out this video where I highlight some key questions you must ask yourself…


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The Ego is in the way

Getting to work with athletes I often see hidden egos lurking in the background. These athletes are well-intentioned, smart and hard working… If I asked them, “have you left your ego at the door?” There answer would most certainly be, “yes.”

So, what is it that I see in these athletes?

  • The inability to be wrong.
  • The inability to leave your past perspective behind.
  • The shying away from the drills that humble you.
  • Being overly concerned with how you look in the eyes of others in the room.

And, that is just a few examples. These attributes will all hold an athlete back, and truly, only the athlete can make this correction. Let's go into more detail on each example and maybe one will resonate.

The Inability to be Wrong

No one likes to be wrong, but for some of us, we fight it more than we realize. We’re always armed with an excuse. We’re always armed with an explanation of what happened in an attempt to justify ourselves.

It doesn’t matter why it happened.

It only matters that you open yourself up and be vulnerable; open to failing.

If in your mind you continually hear yourself thinking, “it doesn’t feel right.” Then you’re in this group. If you’re there to learn… How would you know what “right” feels like!?

The inability to leave your past perspective behind.

We could define learning with this statement – the changing of perspective.

When we learn something new we started with one perspective on a subject, and by the time we’re done learning we have a new perspective on the subject. If you were in a math class and you knew the basics of addition, then that is your perspective. If you then went into a class on multiplication you would see a whole new way to deal with numbers. Your perspective would have changed and your abilities would have grown.

Now, imagine you can’t let go of your old perspective around the addition. Maybe it is because you’re great at addition and it is rare for you to miss a problem. But, the multiplication is confusing you, and you start to miss the problems. You leave the class thinking… “I’d rather just use addition even if it takes me a bit longer…” You just couldn’t get out of your own way!

Often in lifting we’ve trained before. Are you able to leave your past perspective behind?

The shying away from the drills that humble you.

Often in the gym, if it humbles you, then you need to work at it.

But how often do you see someone avoid these humbling drills? Maybe you have avoided these drills yourself, feeling the pit in the bottom of your stomach, “ugh, not this drill” you say, as you feel the frustration start to grow.

Get out of your own way! It is ok to fail on your path of improvement. You can’t improve without failing!

Being overly concerned with how you look in the eyes of other in the room.

Have you ever caught yourself not wanting to do a drill or exercise because you’re afraid what others will think?

The gym is a place for us to learn, test, fail and grow.

Everyone in the gym has failed something on their path of growth. So, why is it that we feel this hesitation? Is it fear? It is ego.

If you’re in a good gym with a good coach and good athletes then they’ll be supportive of your learning. They won’t tear you down about it.

How to kick the Ego?

The first step is awareness. You have to be aware that your ego is getting the best of you. Once you recognize this and admit that it is happening then you can choose to ignore it. Will it be easy once you recognize it? Nope… it’ll be difficult and a bit scary. But, it’ll change your life.

Good luck!



This is a guest post from Drew Dillon, head coach and co-founder of Project Lift during his lifting career as
 an athlete Drew placed as high as 4th at a USA Weightlifting Nationals and is a personal coach to 2012 Olympian Holley Mangold. He is also known as a Weber grill snob and will routinely ask you "what is for dinner" during training. You can follow Drew on Instagram and YouTube
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