Your Weakest Link

I just read a blog by James Altucher. He mentioned this idea: you are only as strong as your weakest link. This phrase took me back to my college days. Back to the time when I auditioned for several days in order to get into the resident improvisational dance company. At the end of this grueling process, during which I tried my hardest to be spontaneous, creative, interesting, and vulnerable (knowing these were the characteristics the director looked for) I was one of only two women selected. I was ecstatic! Until our first residency with a big-time New York choreographer.

Don Redlich was a name I'd read about in dance history books. My first experience working with one of the greats in the field almost made me quit dancing altogether. His favorite expression was "The whole is only as strong as the weakest link." When he was watching the company attempt to perform the piece he was choreographing on us, the weakest link was ME. At the time, I had only been dancing for about 2 years, had transferred from a tiny college to the University of Maryland, and felt WAY out of my depth. The solution he came up with was to put me under an enormous cardboard box. Truly. My role was to crawl across the stage under this box. I was no longer allowed to dance with the others.

Yes, my ego was severely pummeled by this experience. But instead of quitting, I stuck with it. I kept crawling around on my hands and knees in the dark. And as soon as Don Redlich returned to NYC, the company director pulled me out from under the box and let me dance again. Against the choreographer's specific instructions. That director, Mim Rosen, was my hero and my champion. She knew I could do everything he had been asking of me. I just needed a little nurturing. Some encouragement. Instead of constant belittling.

But James Altucher was using this expression to talk about the places in your life where you need to focus more attention. The places where you fall down. It might be that you are brilliant at school, getting straight A's, acing every test. But you stress eat and gain weight, sacrificing your health in the process. Or it could be that your diet and exercise routine are perfect, but you max out your credit card and can't pay your debts.

The first step would be identifying the places in your life where you feel less than awesome. In my opinion, your health has to come first. Take a good look at your diet, your exercise level, your sleep habits, your stress level, your overall wellness. What do you need to add or take away in order to improve in this area? Think small: start with tiny adjustments and see how you feel. Get some extra sleep or cut out some excess junk food. Each day, do a little bit better.

If you are looking to become stronger or more fit, you can apply the same process. What is your weakest link? It could be low back pain, or an old injury that acts up, or tight hamstrings, or weak abdominals. The human body is a miraculous machine. No matter where you are injured or weak, your body is able to heal and work around those limitations. Again, taking tiny steps in the right direction is the key. You're not going to run a marathon on the first day of your training. But you CAN start walking TODAY. Maybe you can jog for 30 seconds. Or one minute. Tomorrow you can do a little more.

You can be your own hero. Your own champion. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to. So get out from under your own box! Get out and get moving toward your goals.

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