Culture Shifts

The status quo doesn’t shift because you’re right. It shifts because the culture shifts. And the engine of culture is status.

Seth Godin, This is Marketing

There are two ways to create a change of direction within your community. You can inspire it, or you can mandate it. You can pull the culture, or you can push it.

Sometimes pushing works - announcing new policies, instituting new rules - but it’s rarely as reliable as you’d hope. That’s because pushing for change neglects to acknowledge why things exist as they do in the first place. It neglects to acknowledge how status is actively designing the culture around us.

There’s been a recent row about a gym instituting a ban on shirtless workouts & booty shorts. That’s quite a push.

Throughout the history of CrossFit, these have both been considered markers of high-status in the same way a fast Fran time or unbroken muscle-ups are. (They also happen to be markers of high-status in the wider culture due to sex & youth, which only further complicates things.)

Regardless of how superficial, being bare-chested or wearing form-fitting clothes are indicators of accomplishment within CrossFit. They are attractive because they are associated with those we’ve deemed worthy of emulating. They are symbols of confidence & aspiration.

A new rule won’t change any of that. Only a profound shift in the culture will.

Actions change when minds change, rarely the other way around.

Patrick Cummings