Feeling Stuck and Powerless

Feeling “stuck” is the best way to get yourself into an emotional black hole of frustration and resentment.

And, the reality is that you will spend most of your time working on anything difficult in a state of “stuck-ness.” So, while it’s never comfortable, it’s definitely a state that you’d better learn to appreciate.

I had a mini-meltdown the other day where I felt powerless and unable to make progress on anything that I’m working on.

Sure, I do a lot of different things (probably too many), and there is often inherent pleasure in working on the various projects that I take on. But, it’s foolish to pretend that there isn’t always a desire for money, freedom and status associated with any pursuit.

SLSC has been at a variety of membership plateaus for the last three years – all of which are at least 20 members short of the numbers that we need to aggressively pay off our debt in a timely matter. We’ve improved the quality of our product and our operations at just about every stage of the business dramatically – but the biggest variables for settling at a higher membership number are the population density of our neighborhood, the churn rate based upon people moving or changing jobs, and the number of people who prefer to train during non-peak hours (since we are basically full at 6am and 5:30pm). We don’t have a lot of control over any of those variables.

Legion has a solid group of individualized coaching clients, but we are roughly at capacity in terms of taking on more of those clients. We have been working on building an audience and coming up with ways to add additional pillars to our business other than individualized coaching, and we’ve had some success with writing longer guides on movement issues and engine-building for CrossFit athletes. However, the variable that most controls success in coaching is working with successful and marketable athletes. This involves either being lucky (by having one of those athletes walk into your gym) or being famous (so top athletes looking for coaching actively seek you out since you’re already part of that “circle.”)

My podcast has something of an audience. Most episodes get several hundred listens, and ones that “do well” or have a famous guest on will get a few thousand listens. However, I don’t have enough of an audience to have any leverage with getting guests. There’s a threshold that – once passed – results in a show having enough of an audience and enough social proof that it enters a positive feedback loop where people recommend the show, guests see other guests that they admire on the show, and it creates a virtuous cycle. So, I feel stuck in a weird, in-between space where the show has had some success, but is not successful enough to give me leverage to really do anything with it.

My bands have put out several records that have done reasonably well within specific underground death metal scenes. However, the biggest variables associated with “success” in music are getting a “co-sign” from established artists with a similar audience, or tapping into an “identity” such that music fans can say something about themselves by identifying as a fan of a specific artist. Since everyone in my bands has real careers or other bands that are their primary focus, we will never be full-time touring musicians which puts an inherent ceiling on how much we can put behind our records. We also struggle to make our music “cool.”

I play soccer two times per week in rec leagues, and, at 34, I’m probably the oldest player on my teams. I sprained my knee at the end of the indoor season about 2-3 months ago. Since then, I’ve felt slow and awkward on the ball, and I’ve struggled to play the way that I used to. Is this indicative of aging taking its toll, or is this an after-effect of an injury that – while no longer painful – is still impacting my performance on a subconscious level by altering my movement patterns?

While none of these thoughts are particularly helpful, it doesn’t change the chatter that runs through my head.

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2 Replies to “Feeling Stuck and Powerless”

  1. Have you thought about using some form of credit to control crowds at certain times of the day?

    For example, Amazon gives $ back when a prime member relinquishes the right for 1-day fee shipping. If the customer chooses a 1-week delivery, he/she gets rewarded.

    You can probably incentivize some folks to come to a noon or 3:30 class by giving something back or making the 5:30 class a bit more expensive. Or let folks collect points and reward them with a free t-shirt, etc. when they reach a certain goal…

    Not sure how this would work in a competitive crossfit-style business, though. Just thinking out loud.

    1. Yeah, we’ve tried various forms of making peak hours “more expensive” but these all fail due to it being basically impossible to enforce. But, the idea of giving some sort of credit for attending off-peak hours classes seems as lot more realistic. Not sure exactly what we would do, but this seems well worth it to think through.

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