The Enemy Within

“Friction may be self induced, caused by such factors as a lack of a clearly defined goal.” MCDP 1

An essential means to overcome friction is human will; we prevail over friction through persistent strength of mind and spirit.

What sets us apart from those that we look up to? What is the difference between you and your idol, your hero, or your mentor? The closer I have become to those I look up to, the more I realize how similar we are.  There have been many days where I have doubted my ability to achieve my dreams. Life can become overwhelming and we can become lost in  completing the day-to-day tasks that pay our bills and put a roof over our heads. But when we are 80 years old and looking back, what will matter more- the car we drove and the house we lived in or the accomplishments we achieved with the people we love?

Deciding to get out of the Marine Corps in order to become a full-time athlete is a huge personal risk. The Marine Corps provides a steady income, medical benefits,  and a stable routine. If I said I wasn’t scared, I’d be lying. I am nervous to walk away from a career that brings me much joy, pride, and security, but I am more nervous of growing old and regretting not giving everything I had into accomplishing a goal that I can’t go a day without thinking about.

My vision is to become a CrossFit Games Individual athlete and more importantly to inspire others to aggressively chase down their dreams .  What is your dream and what is stopping you from accomplishing it?

image

Rise and Grind By Nike
“A battle between you and your mind, drown out the voice of uncertainty with sound of your own heartbeat, burn away your self-doubt with a fire lit beneath you. Remember what we’re fighting for and never forget that momentum is a cruel mistress. She can turn on a dime with the smallest mistake. She is ever searching for the weak place in your armor, that one tiny place that you forgot to prepare for. So as long as the devil is hiding in the details, the question remains. Is that all you got? Are you sure? And when the answer is yes, and you’ve done all you can to prepare yourself for battle. Then it’s time to go forth and boldly face your enemy, the enemy within. Only now you must take that fight into the open, into hostile territory. You’re a lion in a field of lions, all hunting the same allusive prey, with a desperate starvation that says victory is the only thing that can keep you alive. So believe that voice that says you can run a little faster, and you can throw a little harder and that for you, the laws of physics are merely a suggestion. Luck is the last dying wish for those that want to believe that wining can happen by accident, sweat on the other hand is for those that know it’s a choice. So decide now, because destiny waits for no man. When your time comes and a thousand different voices are trying to tell you, you’re not ready for it, listen instead to that lone voice of descent, the one that says you ARE ready, you ARE prepared, and it’s all up to you now.”

image

*LIKES*

“The spotlight that’s on you will kill you if it is stronger than the light that is within you. Be in the world, not of it.”

image

Social media has become a huge part of our culture. I think back to when AOL instant messenger was a big deal, now everything is instant- Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Google. Frequent posting is the norm, and it is quickly becoming a way of measuring your status in society based on the number of followers or “likes”  you have compared to others.

This was brought up last week in discussion at small group when a young girl admitted that she often feels a desire to obtain more likes on Instagram photos, but then said she didn’t know why. I think all of us in the room related in some way.

For those of us sharing our journey with the world through social media…why are we doing it? What is your why? Are you only posting to get a certain number of likes to feel significant, popular, and literally liked?

Young men and women have made it the norm to post pictures that are sexual in nature in order to get more attention and more followers. I had to remove a friend from Instagram who posted a topless photo covering herself with her hands in underwear with the caption, “Let’s be honest. I’m posting this to get to 25,000 followers.” What does having 25,000 followers do for you, and what are you doing for them?! That means that 25,000 people follow that individual who constantly posts inappropriate pictures for the wrong reasons, ultimately falling to the tasteless trend to post similar photos.

If the morals and ethics inside you are fading and you find yourself leaning towards following the crowd in this trend, I challenge you to find validation and recognition in other ways. For the young men and women reading this- I hope that you can find your purpose and your why. You have such a greater purpose in life than to share your body that was only intended to be shared in private, not for the whole world to see and judge.

You are the light you bring to a room. You are the happiness you bring to a friend feeling down. You are your God-given talent. You are beautiful and strong in your own unique way. Your honesty is the truth someone needs to hear and the good news in their day. You are what you repeatedly do and say. You are unique and diverse. You are capable of becoming whatever you want to be while helping others do the same. You are alive and well. You are living in this moment, and you are more than the number of followers, friends and likes you receive.

image

Create Your Culture.

True Leaders in any profession focus on creating environments that enable people to perform. Often times that requires helping them gain perspective.

How do you do that?

Logan Gelbrich, ORIGINAL nutritional, CrossFit Strongman Seminar Staff, writer for The Box Magazine, and Deuce Gym Owner, posted a quote recently that reiterates everything any leader of significance has ever embedded in my mind.

“THE CULTURE OF ANY ORGANIZATION IS SHAPED BY THE WORST BEHAVIOR THE LEADER IS WILLING TO TOLERATE.” -GRUENTER AND WHITAKER”

image
Logan and I doing Strong Man and Woman things.

The underlying factor that separates the good from the great, is the attention to detail that is instilled down to the lowest level, down to the beginner athlete, the most junior Marine, or the newest person on the job. What standards are you going to hold as the leader?

Well, before talking the talk…you have to walk the walk. In order to lead others in any capacity, we must first lead ourselves. This means, holding yourself accountable. The good news its, you don’t have to do it alone! Finding a coach/mentor is key to becoming the best version of yourself. Seek someone with experience, knowledge, someone that you admire, and most importantly, someone you trust.

My most utilized mentor is Shane Sweatt. I’ve briefly mentioned him before and I will continue to mention him throughout future blogs. I met Shane when I was 19 and he started molding my mindset before I even knew it.

image
Shane and I creating chaos.

Below are a few things that Shane has taught me:

  • When training, in every single lift or exercise you do, approach the bar with the same systematic process.
    • This creates muscle memory and can prevent future misses caused by errors during set up while under pressure. This can be applied to multiple facets, not just lifting. Creating small mental processes creates a habit of excellence and mastery in any skill.  In the heat of the moment we do not rise to the occasion, yet we fall to our lowest level of training.
  • Don’t train until failure.
    • When attempting maximal effort lifts, do not allow yourself to go until you can no longer go, save some in the tank. By doing this, we build confidence and create a mindset that is accustomed to succeeding. Failure in life will come in many events, challenges and trials, so why not prevent failure from becoming a common trend in your training?
  • Run with the lame, develop a limp.
    • If you are trying to be the best, and create an environment that breeds success with above average, critical thinkers, do not allow small minded individuals to poison the atmosphere. Their uneducated, weak minds, habits, and comments will prohibit individuals with limitless potential to succeed simply because of their thought processes. These types of thinkers are usually stubborn and unlikely to change. The world is constantly evolving and if you are not adapting and evolving with it, you will fall behind.
  • Give credit where it is due. 
    • Shane and Laura will admit that they are the best at creating the world’s strongest athletes. While they are most certainly able to coach Olympic Lifters, they are not the best in the world at it. They have learned over the years different techniques to utilize, but will admit that when their Olympic Lifters get better it is because they have gotten stronger, not because Shane has broken down the techniques of snatching and clean and jerking. So what do they do? They research and surround themselves with those who are the best, and then they give credit while at seminars or teaching a technique they learned from an Oly Coach. I believe insecure individuals tend to take credit for others work because they want to gain recognition, followers, or what not.  It’s simple to give credit where it is due. It gives respect to those who deserve it and gains respect from those who see you do it.
  • You are capable of achieving anything you want. 
    • Shane has never held back an athlete by telling them that their dreams are unreachable. He will be realistic with people, and tell them that their goal may take ten years to accomplish, but if they truly want it, anything is possible. I think that by helping others see the impossible as possible creates an unstoppable environment. Once others start to accomplish things they never though imagined, the trend keeps spreading and they start to help others around them do the same.

In learning these things from Shane, they molded me into the thinker that I am today. This mindset has set me aside from peers and allowed me to be consistent in what I believe,  has given me the tools to lead myself, and the confidence to lead others.

Decide who it is that you want to lead you, follow them, lead yourself, and hold those around you accountable to your standards until your standards become their way of doing things. By leading through your actions, others will be interested in gaining perspective to why you opt to do things a certain way. Teach them the purpose and make them discover the why.

 

 

Why Suffering is Important

“Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete. The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to his life . It may remain brave, dignified and unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for self-preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal. Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining moral values that a difficult situation may afford him. And this decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not.”  Victor E. Frankl A Man’s Search for Meaning

I was reminded at church this morning that I am living out God’s story, not my own. Only when he is the center of our lives will we be fulfilled and  enabled to live a focused, clearer  and meaningful life. There have been many events that occurred in my life when at the time I was unsure why. I felt like I was being punished, or didn’t deserve to have such  things happen to me. Looking back I am grateful for the suffering I have endured because of the courage and strength that was built in the fire of pain.

Life is full of choices and we have the choice to either fall victim to our circumstances or rise above them. I’d like to expand on a situation where I initially played the role of victim, and how I have accepted responsibility for my own actions and allowed that failure to mold me into the person I am today.

At the age of 19 I decided I wanted to follow in my Father and Grandfather’s footsteps of becoming a United States Marine. My father had worked closely with Veterans of the Wounded Warrior Project, and I got to witness first hand the sacrifices men and women were making for our Country.

I met an above the Knee amputee Marine named Spanky Gibson. His wife was the first female Marine I had ever met. I was immediately intrigued and asked her countless questions. That night was the first time I realized that I was capable of wearing the same uniform I grew up watching my Father and Grandfather wear.

image
Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, Va Summer of 2011

After completing OCS, I finished my senior year of college. I did not walk at my graduation as I opted to compete for the first time as an individual athlete in the Central East Region of the CrossFit Games.

May of 2012 my Father read me the Oath at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky and I was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.

image
Squaring away my cover prior to my Commissioning and First Salute.

After graduation I moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to train and serve as the head Coach for CrossFit Conjugate while waiting to leave for The Basic School (TBS) in April of 2013.

Upon arrival at TBS I continued to train on the weekends when liberty permitted. TBS is 6 months long, with the last 3 months training every other week in the field. My Command allowed me to take leave in order to fly back to Ohio to compete in the Central East Regionals once again as an individual.

Throughout TBS I had one question hanging over my head the entire time. The Marine Corps was conducting research studies to identify facts in order to conclude a decision on integration of women into Combat Military Occupational Specialties (MOS). I went back and fourth regularly on whether or not I was going to participate.

A week before TBS graduation my Platoon Commander asked why I wasn’t volunteering to go to Infantry Officer’s Course (IOC). I gave him my reasons and his reply was, “Taylor, you love this stuff, you are good at it, I would gladly welcome you into the brotherhood of the infantry any day, you should go.”

So I did.

image
Photo Shoot for a CrossFit Games Website Article prior to leaving for TBS in 2013. I’ll never forget studying at a Starbucks in Quantico, Va, I overheard a senior Marine and a Junior Marine discussing their opinions about women attempting IOC. The older man said out loud….”Have you seen that jacked chick, with the huge traps and veins in her arms? Yeah, I heard she’s attempting IOC, but I pray on everything she doesn’t make it.” So I pulled up a chair, introduced myself as the girl with huge traps and veins in my arms, and we had a calm…..interesting discussion and I thanked him for the motivation.

I was in Marines Awaiting Training Platoon for roughly 2 winter months. There we hiked 10-15 miles a week, ran a 5 mile endurance course with a full load once a week, conducted Marine Corps Martial Arts (MCMAP) every morning, played Tactical Decision Games (TDG),  prepared and briefed multiple operations orders, read one book a week on average,  studied weapons and conducted disassembly and assembly, along with swimming,  land navigation and call for fire practical applications. I felt mentally and physically prepared to complete the course and woke on the morning of the Combat Endurance Test (CET) with every intention of being the first female to pass the course.

But I didn’t. I felt like I let so many people down and I blamed everyone and everything except for myself.

I signed a document protecting the integrity of the course for the future Marines to be trained. The uncertainty of the training adds the “fog of war” factor that is very hard to replicate in order to prepare Marines for the real thing. I will not violate that by going into details of the course or reason for failure.

image
Preparing to conduct Night Land Navigation.

The bottom line here, is that I have now overcome the role of the victim, and blaming others for that failure, and I have accepted that the only person to blame was myself.  I know that the training and hardships I went through during that time made me a better leader for the Marines I now lead.

That perspective didn’t come easily and it didn’t come quick. It took the help of a lot of individuals and it took me choosing to accept that suffering and use it to make me better rather than bring me down.

This life is a beautiful journey.  I hope that anyone reading this can find purpose from their sufferings and allow those opportunities to add deeper meaning and value to your life.

image
2015 Marine Corps Ball with my Younger Sister Madeline.

5 Tips for the Young

1. Family First.

Living in California far from the southern part of Tennessee where the rest of my family resides, I have learned quickly that nothing replaces family.  Friends will come and go and some friends may become family, but nothing replaces the real thing.

Life is precious and should be lived to the fullest. Your world can be turned upside down with the blink of an eye. Love deeply and don’t take the most important people in your life for granted.

image
Da (Retired Col USMC of 33 yrs) and Nini, Kenneth and Barbara, also known as Ken and Barbie. Married for over 60 years, madly in love, and the biggest religious influence on my life.

2. Surround Yourself with People Better Than You.

What is it that you want to become? What did you dream of being when you were little? Whatever you want to become, the good news is that unless you desire to be the FIRST to do something, someone has accomplished your dreams. Find those people. Aggressively research who those people are, and place yourself in their presence. Technology is so advanced that all your questions can be found at the tip of your fingers!

Research has shown that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. So, if you don’t want to be average…..stop surrounding yourself with only average people. Find the best, if you want to be the best.

I met Shane and his wife Laura at the age of 19 and instantly knew I wanted to train at their gym. They had the science of strength down to a T with the world records to prove it and I couldn’t resist doing everything in my power to get myself to Cincinnati. Shane took my deadlift from 315lbs to 440lbs in 7 months…drug free. More than the programming utilized and the hard work put in. He changed my MINDSET.  I will forever be in debt to him and Laura for the life lessons they taught me. More blogs to come with an expansion on that!

image
Shane Sweatt. Husband and coach to world’s strongest woman Laura Phelps Sweatt, CrossFit Conjugate owner, and CrossFit’s Powerlifting Seminar Instructor for Westside Barbell’s Conjugate method.

3. Be a Good Friend.

“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17. Some of the most memorable moments in my life are not from personal accomplishments and achievements, but from watching others conquer their fears.

If you are only focused on yourself throughout this journey, you will miss the bigger picture that God has in store.  Slow down and take the time to dig deeper into other people’s lives. When we first meet people we only see the outer layer of their lives. Truly getting to know someone requires peeling back the layers of the onion and finding out what drives them, what scares them, and observing what they are capable of. Then, the best part is helping them realize that.

image
2014 CrossFit Games with Conjugate’s 2nd place team athlete Lindsey Kelly and Coach Laura Phelps Sweatt.

4. Be Authentically, Unapologetically, Fiercely…YOU.

Society is pretty good at influencing young individuals to live their life a certain way. If I would have made the same choices as all my peers, I can tell you I would not be ME, I would be THEM.

Challenge yourself in order to develop a sense of appreciation for the grit and drive that you are capable of. Reach for goals that people say aren’t for “someone like you.”  Use the comments like “You’re to tall to be a cheerleader”…….”You’ll never do that”……”Women shouldn’t be Marines”….. to FUEL your fire.

Once you start discovering yourself, you will be even MORE capable to help others do the same and your life will change in ways you never imagined possible.

image
Me. My favorite part about Monday is always putting the uniform back on.

5. Compare Yourself to Yourself.

If we constantly compared ourselves to others, we would never fully appreciate our personal progress. For anyone who is currently in the CrossFit Open, this is the truest test of comparing yourself to yourself! Some of these competitors are FULL TIME athletes, and do nothing but train. It’s important to keep those things into perspective.

If you’re comparing your looks to pop stars, let’s all realize that they have a full on glam squad working on them daily. I personally don’t consider plastic surgery, loads of makeup, and designer clothes to be authentic, or cool, just not cool, at all.

Keep a log or a journal to reflect regularly on the progress that you’ve made over time. Becoming a master of anything requires thousands of hours and dedication. It’s important to realize your successes, learn from your failures and always put one foot in front of the other.

When I started CrossFit at age 19, I couldn’t do ONE pull up. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I am certainly miles and miles ahead of where I was when I started out. The beauty of your journey and writing your own story, is looking back at where you started and saying wow, I can’t believe that was me…..and I’m so far ahead of that now….and that is SO COOL!

image
Left: 2009 at first CrossFit Gym, Derby City CrossFit Right 2014 at SoCal Regionals

 

A Girl with a Dream

Passion: An intense emotion, a competing enthusiasm or desire for something.

image

Perseverance: Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

image

Purpose: The reason for which something exists.

image

My name is Taylor Drescher. I am a believer in God, a third generation  Marine, a hopeless romantic and dating the love of my life. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a prior competitive cheerleader and 3X National Champion with the University of Louisville. I am a former National Professional Grid League athlete for the Los Angeles Reign. I am a 2x Regional level CrossFit Games Individual athlete, and a 1x Regional level CrossFit Games Team athlete. I am currently on Team CrossFit CDR and we are currently in the Open season in attempt to qualify, for what will be my first time, in the 2016 CrossFit Games in Carson California.

I am a dreamer, a fighter, an individual with a burning PASSION for excelling in physical and mental feats. Since the age of 19 I have longed to qualify for the CrossFit Games as an individual athlete…. and I won’t stop until I do. I believe that my character is developing daily as I am faced with adversity and I continue to choose PERSEVERANCE over backing down. I have met countless individuals along the way who have helped write my story and given me the tools to create the life I desire.

I believe that the mentors in my life and my faith in God has put me into a position where I am now comfortable making myself vulnerable to the community that may choose to follow me. I believe in critical thinking and mental toughness. I believe in breaking down walls and stereotypes.I believe in being a role model for the future generation. I believe in positive attitudes and always finding a way to win. I believe in being a relentless student of leadership and that love makes the world go round. I believe that respect is earned, never given and Marines are some of the fiercest individuals on the planet, not because they are born that way, but because they are made that way. I believe that America is the greatest country because of the men and women who sacrifice to keep it that way. I believe becoming a master of your trade and devoting countless hours to do what others won’t is one of the most challenging but rewarding accomplishments one can achieve. I believe that if you can’t go a day without thinking about something, then you should never stop working for it.I believe that team work truly does make the dream work. I believe in accountability, integrity, trust, honor, courage and commitment.  I believe that experience is irreplaceable and that taking risks are often necessary. I believe that my PURPOSE is to lead others through unwavering fortitude and to live out the life God has in store for me.

I believe that your passion leads you to your purpose, but only those who chose to persevere will be the change they wish to see in the world.