Rich Froning, JR // Credit: Brian Sullivan, CrossFit, INC.

The (Not-So) Secret Society

…Of those who refuse to be average. 

The folks back home may not get it. You know, the friends that call CrossFit and its annual CrossFit Games a “hot trend” or a “fluke”.These same colleagues can’t explain how Google rode a wave of search engine startups to finish atop, printing money — then, now, and into the foreseeable future. They’d also armchair-analyze Apple Computer’s meteoric rise by settling upon, “Well, Steve Jobs was amazing.”

There are three components behind brand explosions: a) timing b) excellence c) and the community behind the movement. This essay is about the people.

The composite of a CrossFit Games fan is an individual who is constantly in the pursuit of ‘better’. And with a toleration of the pain necessary to achieve it.

Visit in any one place in the StubHub Center stadium and you’d have found this type of person. They gravitate to this community. When you talk to this person, you’ll find an innovator, a leader, or an overcomer — someone who (due to their adversities) shouldn’t even be here. But they are, from former drug abuse to crippling scandal to missing limbs — nothing stopped them from pursuing excellence. Excuses fall by the wayside when the people around you fail to acknowledge their own.

The draw of the CrossFit Games is not the fact that it is a powerful meeting of sports fans. The event’s potency is a byproduct of how the CrossFit methodology influences the personal growth, awareness, and self-efficacy. The energy is found on and off the field of play.

Part two: that great adaption between the ears.

If an individual has attended the CrossFit Games — even one time — that person is the type that sees potential where others may be slow to recognize it. This ability is valuable in all aspects of life — especially so in entrepreneurship. Some of those individuals began traveling to watch a young sport take hold on a Northern California ranch, seven years ago. It’s no surprise that the typical CrossFitter is doing well for themselves.

Foresight: In 2009, folks in attendance were saying, “One day, this sport will be on ESPN and the athletes will be world class.”

This is that day. There were folks that far ahead of the prediction curve, even while sitting on a dirt hill, staring at a ranch garage in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Consider the astonishing unlikelihood of today for just one moment.

One of the lacking attributes of my own generation is our ability to call upon our own facilities to achieve a goal. Another is our lack of foresight (what will happen next? how should I adjust?). Another is a lack of intellectual curiosity. Another is the ability to press “go”, usually out of the fear of failure. The most resounding observation of my peer group is that we refuse to admit that we could be better. Without that, there can be no improvement.

Credit: Brian Sullivan, CrossFit, inc.

So imagine being in a stadium where people, young and old, harvest their own resources, thrive on foresight, live on intellectual curiosity, refuse to fear failure, embrace faith, and always strive for excellence.

So here we are, a society of those who simply want to be better. Not elitists, by any means. Quite the opposite, they say that you can only be the best if you carry yourself as though you are not. We are problem solvers — we find ways to thrive, whereas others seem to be comfortable enough with survival. The beauty of it all is that CrossFit’s goal isn’t exclusivity. More people will understand this after the ESPN 2's live broadcast demonstrates what the brand’s sport is all about.

In a chat with Rich Froning, the day before he was to be crowned the Fittest on Earth for the third straight year, he said something heavy in our conversation. As his friend and sports marketing director, I asked — “Is there anything that I can do to help?” I was willing to buy ice, pick up some Tiger balm,trim his beard, press his jersey, clean his shades, make him some pizza — anything to help the guy who makes a habit out of looking out for others.

The three-time champion responded, “[Tomorrow] it’s all me (with Jesus).” I left it at that. It’s that type of humility, self-awareness, and poise that helps define the CrossFit Games athlete and fan.

With the amount of human energy and human potential that CrossFit, Inc. has on its side, the Santa Cruz-bred brand and its annual sport is as much of a “trend” as that Northern Californian search engine or its neighboring consumer technology manufacturer. We are here to stay.