Thoughts On Excellence

Ashley en route to 31 bodyweight squats.

Warning: This may ramble a little bit.

CrossFit places high value on excellence.  In fact, more than a sub 2 Fran, a Games championship, or a big C & J, excellence, in the form of virtuosity, is the ultimate achievement in CrossFit.  Excellence extends across many boundaries.  Unlike a sub 2 Fran or a Games championship or a big C & J, excellence is not mainly a physical virtue. Oh, certainly it takes incredible will and discipline and other non-physical virtues to win the Games, but excellence truly transcends the physical.

Excellence is not easily pigeonholed.  What is it?  What defines it?  Is it the result that determines excellence, or is it something more?  Should there be an ease, a grace, a mastery, a virtuosity, associated with excellence?

In physical contests, like football or swimming, it is very tempting to look at Michael Phelps and point out his height and arm span and huge shoulders and back, basically his physicality, and note that must be the key to his success.  Or the hours and miles he logs in the pool. But does his size and work ethic really account for his dominance and the seeming effortlessness with which he dominates?

How about a non sporting or physical endeavor?  Some years ago, maybe 2003, I saw the band The Cult (here and here) at the Warfield in San Fran.  A favorite band of mine, I have seen the Cult many times, but this time there was something very different.  Matt Sorum was on drums.  In a band full of good musicians, Sorum was on fire.  He was incredible.  It was like the rest of this great and kind of under-appreciated band was just there to support him.  To this day, I have never seen another drummer like him, despite over a decade of working nightclubs. Why was he so good?  Is he technically proficient?  Yes, he can play jazz, rock, and a host of other styles with ease and real ability.  Is he a hard core rocker? Sure, he was in GnR for years and a couple other big name bands.  But does all this add up to such excellence?

What gives one an ease with words, another with fighting, another on their feet, that just goes far beyond what others, others who work just as hard, are just as big, just as educated, can do.  True excellence should not be a fleeting thing, it should not go with age, even though the venue for its display may be gone.

If all this is true, then excellence has to come from somewhere besides physical attribute or practice and training discipline or sheer desire.  Is it simply innate and it will find its way to the surface no matter what, no matter the activity?  Or perhaps it is much more complicated than that.  Perhaps it is an intricate blend of junctions, of attributes, of possibilities, that creates excellence. Or maybe it is really simple.  Maybe excellence is the ability to be completely in tune with and attuned to the universe. To vibrate at the exact same frequency as the cosmos.  But whatever the reason, whatever the cause, excellence certainly exists.  And it can be palpably felt when witnessed.

Please post your thoughts to Comments.



Work up to a touch-and-go 3RM.


7 Rounds

7 Toes 2 Bar

7 Pushups

7 Goblet Squats

7 Kettlebell Swings

Use a a 73/53# kettlebell for the squats and swings.