When I was a younger man I trained for kettlebell competitions. It was a grueling and repetitive effort, but I was determined to prove I could meet the challenge. One of my preferred events was called Long Cycle which consists of an athlete performing a kettlebell clean and jerk for as many reps as possible in 10 minutes. Check out this video to see an example. CLICK HERE
But, as time passed, I accumulated shoulder injuries that forced me to give up my training. Were my dreams crushed? Maybe…I hate to “quit” or “surrender,” even for reasons outside of my control.
But, even though I was disappointed, I learned something. And like most stuff rattling around in my brain I want to try to explain how this experience might help you.
The Beauty of Movement
The term “taming the arc” refers to maintaining the trajectory of the kettlebell in the most efficient way possible. Like many physical activities in can appear simple but still be highly technical. That’s because the arc involves a complex sequence of movements: muscle contractions and repetitive and regular breathing that can take thousands of repetitions and countless hours to master. Additionally, there are outside forces (the kettlebell and gravity), and inside forces (your muscles and joints) which need to be mastered if you want to truly get your form “dialed in.” Ah, but when you do your efforts flow and becomes seamless and you achieve that Zenlike tranquilty that is possible with physical activity.
Navigating life can be like that too. Often there are a complex series of events and reactions every day that affect your personal arc. And how your trajectory plays out depends largely on how you respond.
Events and circumstances can be dramatic and life-changing such as an unexpected death in the family a natural disaster or an emergency at work. We all know that these events can’t be controlled, just as we can’t control other people’s reactions to them.
But it’s always a powerful thing to remember that the one thing you can control is how you react to these outside forces and to others, and that in so doing you can increase the likelihood of the outcome you want. Let’s see how this might work in your daily life.
You are cruising about your typical week, and suddenly a loved one in your household comes down with the flu. Your typical life trajectory is interrupted. How do you react? More than likely you switch gears, clear your schedule, and head to the store for medicine and fluids to help them recover. That’s the way it is sometimes; you just have to put your life on hold to play nurse. And when you do, you know this small deviation is not going to cause you too much trouble and is worth it to you and your loved one.
Or, let’s imagine you’ve just finished a tough week at the office and a colleague invites you out for a Friday happy hour. What do you do? A beer or nice glass of wine would sure taste good, you think, but Saturday is beer and pizza night already and you are working to burn off that winter weight you put on over the last six months. You could limit yourself to a couple drinks on Friday…maybe skip the delicious but unhealthy pub food, or you could avoid temptation and skip the whole thing.
Our personal and professional lives are also subject to similar actions and reactions. For example, imagine your coworker drops the ball on a minor project and you are upset at his lack of attention. You feel like shaking him, giving him a piece of your mind or even cursing him, or kicking him square in the…well, you know what I mean. Any of these reactions, though, are probably not going to be productive or produce positive results. In fact, you could even get the reputation of being a real jerk because in the big picture it wasn’t worth the reaction and it’s consequences. Some things are, as we all know, just not “worth it.”
All the Small Things
My point is we all have some control over our life’s trajectory no matter how chaotic it can seem. In my kettlebell training days I was just trying to tame the arc so I could survive my 10 minute competition without falling on my face. In life, taming the arc is often a series of small decisions all of which affect our overall goals. In other words, we all have desired outcomes and how we respond and react to the outside forces life throws at us can decide our outcome.
So when you life hits you with big—or even small—unexpected events, keep your head and ask yourself “Am I going to tame the arc or let it take me down?”