Door Number Seventeen: Pushing Your Limits

“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” ~Bruce Lee

Be it Lance Armstrong winning seven consecutive Tour de Frances after a comeback from cancer or Adrian Peterson coming back from a torn ACL in record time there are plenty of examples of people in our society pushing themselves to the limit. It’s easy to go through life always playing it safe. Avoiding pushing one’s self too hard out due to a fear of failure or causing unneeded, self-imposed harm. However, it is important we are not too afraid to attempt to transcend these perceived limitations. By taking the opportunity to test ourselves and opening this door we improve the quality of our lives in a number of important ways.

Every successful attempt at pushing ourselves beyond our limits expands our potential. Anyone who has run a race knows the key is to push towards finishing at all costs. While you may start at a low distance like a 5K, over time stamina and confidence increases and before you know it you may be running a 10K, half-marathon, or even the fabled full marathon. The problem with holding back and staying in one’s comfort zone is it creates an insurmountable ceiling. When we take the risk and succeed, any perceived barrier is pushed back. We realize the bar is not as low as we set it giving us the opportunity to strive higher than ever thought possible.

Failing at reaching beyond our limits makes us more resilient. The obvious reality of pushing ourselves to the edge of the possible is there is a great potential for failure. This lack of success does not have to be a bad thing. Every time we attempt the impossible and fall short we become better at accepting failure. An acceptance that encourages us to continue forward even when it seems unlikely we will succeed. After all, it took losing an arm for Luke Skywalker to achieve the heights of Jedi mastery needed to defeat the Empire.

Pushing our limits not only improves the quality of our own lives but can serve as inspiration to those around us.  As is illustrated in the previous points, win or lose there is a great deal of personal gain from challenging our limits. What may be forgotten as we attempt to better ourselves is we have the potential to inspire others to similar success. From Luke Skywalker to Rudy, people have been drawn to stories of underdogs becoming more than their meager backgrounds would suggest. When others see us succeed at something once thought beyond our capabilities a sense anything is possible arises. By shooting for the moon, we empower others to do the same.

We must push ourselves to the limit not only to increase our potential through our successes, but to learn the resiliency gained from failure. In addition, by opening this door we have the potential to inspire others to do the same. While it is quite possible we will come up short or become too overwhelmed, its vital we try. And while we should accept our limitations, it is even more important we continue to believe we can overcome them. So while the wisdom of Yoda would dictate we must always do or do not , and that trying is just another word for failure, in this case we should ignore the wise little green muppet and continue our efforts at striving towards the impossible.



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