Success in the gym is many fold, and fully dependent on the goals of the athlete. A strength trainee is aiming for higher numbers, bigger loads, while a bodybuilder is looking for hypertrophy and mass. Sure, there's carry-over between the two disciplines – a bigger man is obviously going to push more – but it's foolish to measure them by the same standard.
Yet, we see it all the time...
You catch that? 3:39-4:01? If you didn't, just scroll down a ways – profound insight is the stuff of YouTube comments, don't you know...
Their demonstration ought to be clear to us: While their disciplines remain separate, the Strongman and CrossFitter can still borrow from one another. That they are performing the same basic tasks does not discredit their training; merely, it highlights the disparity between.
Pull-ups? Box-Jumps? I don't expect Shaw to start doing those anytime soon. Likewise, I can't imagine Ben Smith pulling a 1128 lbs deadlift out of the blue.
To hold these men to the same standards of work is foolishness.
What's this got to do with my Jedi?
If you go down the line of my articles, you'll see a constant reference being made: Craft. I want to engender this idea in you – that roleplay can be more than simple past time. True; it's often used as such, but I think that's a disservice to the sheer work which goes into most roleplaying projects.
The relevancy of our weight trainers should be evident, then. You can take one look at them and know they're good at what they do, yet if they began measuring themselves by the other one's standards, you'd quickly see them grow discouraged.
There is a tendency in roleplay – as in any act of creativity – to miss the forest for the trees. We become so ingratiated towards our own internal processes that we can no longer recognize the craft for what it is. Call it writer's block or overwork, but it's a damning thing once it starts, and can leave the artist feeling deadbeat and broken.
You don't get that way from mere entertainment.
Are you trying to do that 300 lbs box jump?
How do we gauge our merit, then? What makes for a successful roleplayer?
Well, it depends.
I've been running a long-standing series of campaigns for about four, five years now. Since the disbanding of my guild, I've taken a more focused, small party approach to roleplaying. It's more in-line with collaborative storytelling, the players contributing each to it's success. Their ideas are given in equal measure, emerging through the work of worlbuilding, character development, and lore. Through this enmeshment of ideas a heroic journey emerges – something that I never found in the far-reaching sweep of a guild.
Does this mean that I'm succeeding as a roleplayer? I like to think so. The story has definitely had quantitative effects on my roleplaying group, with a number of us becoming fathers, actors, or going into the gym. Without the motivational aspect of their group – without the lesson given by long standing, collaborative craftsmanship – these things may never have occurred. Moreover, we've become closer as friends, and our introspection on the story has led to numerous bonds of kinship being made.
But ask us to organize something on a community level...
Were I to suddenly start measuring my group by it's popularity with the greater server, you'd quickly find me growing despondent. I have trained my muscles for a specific task, and that is the utilization of extant media to create a meaningful narrative for a small group. Those muscles could, in theory, be utilized in the construction of a wider social circle, but – as previous attempts have shown – meets with limited success.
Your own muscles have been trained for specific tasks. If you are accustomed to one style of roleplay, then it makes no sense to try and attune it to the processes of another. You can borrow techniques, maybe, but you will never own it all.
To measure ourselves by the same, universal standards is ludicrous.
You are good at what you do!
The tendency among creative types is to overthink. More often than not, they see what failures will arise from their pursuits. Sometimes, this leads to the termination of a project before it's even started!
It differs from weight training, therefore, because with that we can actively measure our success. Bigger numbers means you're getting stronger. Longer endurance means you're probably getting healthier. Does this mean that we are completely incapable of measuring success? Absolutely not.
If your group is making storylines, and those storylines are having an effect on their characters or themselves, then you have succeeded.
If you are in the business of community organization, and your efforts are leading to a more organized, better networked community - then you've succeeded!
The point is: You're probably better at this stuff than you think, and you need to be reminded of that.
Because I know one thing for sure: Roleplayers have no greater critic than themselves.