I started working out at a gym called X-Train . It's a boot camp style workout, and challenging for everyone. However, I still use lighter weights than most, run slower, and lay face down on the floor about 50% of the time when we're supposed to be in plank position.
Flash back to 20 years ago when I would have been humiliated to have been seen as the weakest or the last, and may have even quit going to a gym like that for that reason. Not now. Not only am I not humiliated, but I don't feel the least bit embarrassed about my lack of strength and physical fitness compared to the other regulars. Many of these regulars compete in triathlons, marathons, and participate in the grueling Tough Mudder competition. Anybody who works out to that extent should be in better shape than me.
As best-selling author Jon Acuff writes, "If you want to be awesome at something, you just need to be brave enough to be horrible at it first. The fear of being horrible is actually what keeps most people from ever being awesome at everything. You’re afraid to look dumb when you give your first speech so you never give one. You’re afraid people will hate your first book so you never write one. But guess what? If you’ve never tried something before, you should be horrible at it your first time. No, strike that. If you’ve never tried something before, you better HOPE you are horrible at it your first time. Why? Because you want to improve."
When I think back to the times in my life when I improved, it was when I was competing against or working with others who were more skilled than me. They set the bar high, and thus made me dig deep to try to reach it. Just as a lower priced house in a high end neighborhood realizes a higher value all because of its proximity to more expensive homes, your value will increase when you associate with those who are more skilled than you are.
I might still be trailing far behind those adroit professionals when it comes to the skills I'm trying to perfect, but those are the people I want to be working with and competing against because they will make me stronger. And I will continue to tell myself that when I'm laying face down on the floor while everyone else is in perfect plank position.