As 2018 begins, we are all buoyed by limitless possibilities. Of all the new projects to take on this year, none is closer to home than self-restoration and self-improvement. My mantra for 2018 is LGB!, let’s get better!. LGB! is a battle cry used by the crew team in the novel The Boys In The Boat, a story about nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Admittedly, I don’t know the first thing about rowing. But this captivating story struck a chord in me, chronicling both the physical hardship endured by the rowers as well as the soul-searching required to overcome the limited belief systems we impose on ourselves.
This is a story of power and grace, suffering and redemption, surrendering to the self and becoming wholesome. Of the nine positions in the men/women crew, the pivot lies in the coxswain, the only person who is not rowing. The role of the coxswain is to motivate the rowers and to keep the boat straight. The mastery of the coxswain lies in creating the delicate balance between movement and inertia, knowing the exact moment to unleash the stored up power behind the pent up energy, much like a coiled spring when it is finally uncorked.
Bobby Moch was the coxswain for the University of Washington men’s varsity crew team which won the gold medal in the 1936 Olympics. One of his favorite tools to rally his troops was the use of the battle cry. At the end of every race when he needed the boat to sprint to the finish line, he’d scream mercilessly into his megaphone: LGB! LGB!, let’s get better!, let’s get better!. Often, that was enough to produce a victory. Other times, LGB! merely served as a reminder of human frailty and the endless overwhelming hurdles we face in life.
Being a newbie in yoga, I had my own LGB! moment the other day. In one of my first classes, I was unable to keep my balance during warrior pose and stumbled. I felt embarrassed and dejected. Then came a lot of self-judgment, telling myself there was no way I was getting better. But upon reflection after class, I recalled all the times I have tripped up in life and was able to bounce back due to perseverance. To find our rudder in life, we must all be our own Bobby Moch, discerning when to be tenacious and when to cruise along to store up energy for the next big breakthrough. Perhaps LGB! is less about defeating the external enemy and more about conquering our own inner demons. What I’ve found is self-attachment and self-critique only leads to suffering. Freedom lies in self-acceptance and self-appreciation. As I walked into my yoga class this morning and felt the warmth from the group camaraderie, I said to myself: We are all leaning into our discomfort, we are all riding our edge, WE ARE ALL GETTING BETTER!!!