Girls can’t do pull-ups

Of course, that sentence becomes false if just one female in the world can do pull-ups. I had several in my gym today who could.

So if the idea that girls can’t do pull-ups is false, it’s nothing more than an idea. The idea is the tricky part.

Canadian strength coach Charles Poliquin commonly says that a good strength coach should get a female, no matter what her body fat is, to be able to do 12 chin-ups in 12 weeks (palms face backwards in a chin-up — forward in a pull-up. We more often train the chin-up). The statement seems a little over the top, but it gets to the heart of the matter quickly.

Last week a female swimmer couldn’t do any chin-ups when we tested. This week she still couldn’t do any, but when I asked her about it she said, “Last week I could only do half a chin-up, this week I can do three-quarters.”

She has the most difficult part covered — the idea.

How to ask for an internship

One way is to talk about yourself:

“I need the three credits to graduate.”

“I really want a job in that field.”

“I need experience for my resume.”

The thing is, most people don’t care about your needs. Employers certainly don’t. They care about what you can do. They care about how you can help. Most of all, they care about why you’re asking in the first place.

Perhaps a better way is to focus on what the other person needs. Even better, focus on a shared vision of the future.

Why your sport isn’t popular

There’s no good reason why football should be the most popular sport in the United States. There’s no reason why baseball should be second, and no reason basketball should be third. Due almost entirely to chance, those happen to be the most popular sports at this point in American history.

If a few things were different, maybe we’d have soccer as our national pastime. Or maybe we’d be really engrossed by the Badminton World Championships. Perhaps an alternate universe exists where Americans gather in bars to watch Tai Chi push hands.

There’s no good reason why your sport isn’t more popular. It just isn’t.

But the point isn’t to be popular. The point is to recognize that broad popularity is a silly metric to pay attention to.

How to deal with drama

Two filters to pass before talking about other people:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it helpful?

If it’s neither true nor helpful, why talk about it? Life offers humans enough drama without our needing to add to it.

It turns out that the best way to deal with drama is not to engage it in the first place. I’m not sure it’s any more complicated than that.

The Monday blues

Even if you have your dream job, or the perfect class schedule, it can be hard to get out of bed on Monday morning. For many of us, this bleak feeling will always exist.

The key is to recognize that it’s just a feeling, and that your feelings are not who you are.

Getting up, going to work, going to class — they’re often the perfect antidote to the Monday blues.

Stop being such a girl

I once heard a volleyball coach say this forcefully to one of her players. She was gossiping after an opposing player was rude to her, and the coach wasn’t having it.

There was no need to talk about it further. There was no need to express feelings. The gossip just needed to end.

Said another way: “Just be a professional.”

Making a commitment

“Alice: Would you tell me, please which way I ought to go from here?

The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Alice: I don’t much care where.

The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.

Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.

The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.” 

~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

When we’re torn between two decisions — careers, graduate schools, marriage partners, creative projects — it turns out that it doesn’t always matter which one we pick. It just matters that we pick.

Ruth Chang, a philosophy professor at Rutgers, affirms what Alice learned long ago. Rather than needing reasons for our actions, Chang argues that we can create reasons for our actions instead. We need only make a commitment:

“When you commit to something, you create your own identity — you make yourself into who you are.

Suppose you spent your whole life never committing to anything, never putting your agency behind something. You drift through life, which most of us do. Well, what’s sad is you’ve never exercised this amazing power you have to create reasons for yourself. When you drift through life you’re never the author of your own life. You’re just something being buffeted around by your circumstances. I think what we’ve missed is that we have this other capacity to commit to things and write the story of our own lives — by committing to people and projects and plans of action that then create reasons for ourselves to live one way as opposed to another.”