The 6 Mistakes of a Calisthenics Athlete are not original work.
They are based on the teachings of a very famous and wise person, Marcus Cicero.
Marcus Tullius Cicero, born 3 January 106 BC and died on 7 December 43 BC, was a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul, and constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the Roman equestrian order, and was one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists
According to Michael Grant, “the influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas greatly exceeds that of any other prose writer in any language”.
I first heard about these teachings in a book entitled, Wisdom of the Ages, by Dr. Wayne Dyer. When I read these teachings I was literally without words. It struck at the core and made me re-think a lot of my own backward %#$ philosophy.
The 6 Mistakes of Man, by Cicero, was really intended as a warning for future generations to avoid the errors made by Cicero and his contemporaries at the time of the great Roman Empire.
Cicero wanted to share what went so tragically wrong with one of the impressive empires of our time.
Here are Cicero’s 6 Mistakes of Man:
- The delusion that personal gain is made by crushing others.
- The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected.
- Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it.
- Refusing to set aside trivial preferences.
- Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and studying.
- Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.
So how the heck does this relate to Calisthenics and athletic training?
That’s a great question.
Here is an interpretation of these treasured pearls of wisdom as applied to the world of Calisthenics.
1. The delusion that personal gain is made by crushing others.
As an athlete, you are constantly want to increase, improve, get better, make progress and let’s not forget have fun in the process. This first mistake of man applied to calisthenics is really all about be inclusive. Oftentimes when we train, we are only focus on the me in the equation and leave out the rest. In my case, I wanted to make my training a family thing, including my wife and son in the fun. (I am a poet and I didn’t even know it….huh I did it again…) We may not be literally crushing others by our actions but we may not be sharing in our joy because of our insane devotion and discipline to our sport. Our personal gain can be shared with others and as we excel we can bring those along for the ride.
Each of us is at a different place in our athletic training, and meeting others where they are at is especially helpful not only for the others that can benefit from your knowledge and skill-set, but you too can benefit because you reinforce and get better from that which you share and teach to others.
2. The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected.
If there was ever something so fatal that could literally kill you, its worry. Stress is the result of worry. And as we all know it’s the main cause of a lot of the dis-ease. There are of course things we can do to reduce our stress, probably the best way to lessen your worry is to just let go of the things you cannot control or change.
It’s really easy to fall under the illusion that we are so all mighty and powerful that we can will anything we want by changing it exactly to our liking or correct it perfectly. That is nice thinking, but it’s just that, nice thinking and really nothing more.
We can really only control and change the things that we have within our immediate reach to change and everything else is just noise. Breakthrough the noise and hear the signals.
3. Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it.
Seriously if I had a penny for every time someone told me that this or that was impossible, I would literally be a millionaire. We have all heard how something is absolutely freaking impossible to do, only to find a short while later that some guy or gal in some far distant land did the very thing we or someone we know had professed was impossible to do.
If you are like most, you probably get even more motivated when someone tells you that you can’t. The very notion that something is impossible only because the person telling you this can’t fathom another option sets a fire a blazing in most. It certainly has moved me to do things that pushed me beyond my boundaries. And in the end, we all are better people for having gone through such experiences.
Isn’t that what Calisthenics is all about. Pushing through the limits, testing your prior personal bests and seeing what you are really made of. We all have 86,400 seconds each day. Do the impossible and make it possible. And don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
4. Refusing to set aside trivial preferences.
Look I am the first to admit that I have my own funny pet peeves and quirks. It most definitely drives my wife batty. We all have our unusual and strange preferences. These preferences can sometimes keep us from trying new things or seeing a difference perspective. It’s aptly called the comfort zone. And in it, oftentimes you will not grow. Especially when it comes to your training. Letting go of what you think and how you think and trying something new goes a long way toward a more well-rounded athletic performance.
5. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and studying.
The old adage a mind is a terrible thing to waste, is one worth noting. The mind is like a muscle, and if you don’t use it you will lose it. If we just focus on training our body and not our mind, we will be up a creek without a paddle.
To really press upon the importance of this let’s look at a study done on some 678 nuns, 80% of whom were teachers and continued to make learning a life long quest. It followed 678 sisters of the School Sisters of Notre Dame living in Mankato, Minnesota. The goal of the study is to identify the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. Some of the results of the study confirm the commonsense notions that healthy lifestyle and active and stimulating intellectual life can help us stay healthy and independent later in life. But the most surprising finding is that certain traits in early 20s can help predict whether someone will have Alzheimer’s disease 60 years later. What are some of the findings? A college education and an active intellectual life may help stave off Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The Nun Study also suggested that strokes and brain trauma might worsen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
There were many other findings that came out of the nun study but for the purposes of this point, we wanted to demonstrate the importance of refinement of the brain & the habit of reading and studying contribute enormously toward that.
6. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.
We all love to exercise and stay active. And when it comes to calisthenics, I am guilty of this one. I love to profess my passion and enthusiasm for the sport. We need to error on the side of caution though, because what works for one may not work for another. Just because you love working out and calisthenics does not mean that it will be embraced and shared among your peers. The adage let and let live holds true here.
There are many things that happen as we embrace our passions and one of them is to evangelize. Although our intentions are coming from a good place it may be received by others as trying to control or manipulate. Its best to be quiet and humble and do your own thing. And if others take an interest and solicit your advice, well then so be it. But don’t go out there telling others what, how and when they should live their lives. That will just cause a whole lot of problems.
In conclusion, we have discussed the 6 Mistakes of a Calisthenics Athlete as seen through the lens of the great orator, philosopher and lawyer, Cicero. Applying these to your own training and way of life is of course your decision.