Exceed Your Limits Or Die
Much of what I have read regarding finding success focuses on the glory of the result, and not so much on the 90% — the hard work that needs attention daily to GET to the result. It’s the 90% that needs your attention, your motivation…your consistent dedication. Otherwise…you are stuck on a plateau. In order for me to motivate myself to hit it AGAIN…I crank the tunes.
There has been a song that has been running on rotation during any of my strategy sessions, training runs or workouts that never fails to paint a vivid picture for me. U2’s “Cedarwood Road” is really one of their great songs. “You can’t return to where you never left,” Bono sings on this song about friendship and bittersweet memories. What draws me in to this song is this one line, “You can’t return to where you never left.” It puzzles me. What does this MEAN?!
Running with Bruce Lee
I had been thinking about for a while…until one day, a Quora Digest discussion popped up in my news feed about guy who could barely exceed running 30 minutes without blowing up — and was desperate to break this barrier. I was curious, because I remember the feeling of not being able to run 30 minutes myself. I scrolled through some of the obvious advice…until I read this gem from Matt Behnke — who posted an excerpt from The Art of Expressing the Human Body , a story told by a friend of Bruce Lee, John Little:
“Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run the three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile [Note: when running on his own in 1968, Lee would get his time down to six-and-a half minutes per mile]. So this morning he said to me “We’re going to go five.” I said, “Bruce, I can’t go five. I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do five.” He said, “When we get to three, we’ll shift gears and it’s only two more and you’ll do it.” I said “Okay, hell, I’ll go for it.”
So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I’m okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out. I’m tired, my heart’s pounding, I can’t go any more and so I say to him, “Bruce if I run any more,” –and we’re still running-”if I run any more I’m liable to have a heart attack and die.” He said, “Then die.” It made me so mad that I went the full five miles.
Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it. I said, you know, “Why did you say that?” He said, “Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”
Wow. Let me focus on what struck me in that. “ There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level. “
Now I know what that line by U2 means.
How many times have you been frozen, unable…hell… unwilling to do ONE more thing…try ONE more idea because you feel like you can’t or you don’t have permission, or because you are afraid that you will fail?
These issues PLAGUE us daily. It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO of a company, an owner of a sub shop, a sales rep out on the road, or a guy trying to qualify for Kona. Everybody gets stuck by the limits they set for themselves.
Think on the last time you complained to someone about the crap you were dealing with in your life, and that person suggests to you that maybe you should “try this one thing”. Did you get annoyed? Did it make you just a little bit angry, and did you brush it off, or dismiss it entirely? Did you ask yourself what it was that pissed you off? If you are like me…the answer is no. But that is precisely what you need to do. Chances are, you are pissed because you DON’T BELIEVE IT OR ANYTHING WILL WORK!
Your mindset says you’ve quit.
You Doing You
Think on how often you get to this point in your daily life…with almost EVERYTHING you do. You come up to a ceiling and you smash your face into it. You struggle, you wail away, you get tired…and you quit. The cycle of you doing you, as one challenge crashes into your limits…one wave after another.
And yet…do you do everything you can do? Is it true that MAYBE you don’t try something because you don’t know how …or maybe feel like it will be too hard or too much work…or too time consuming?
Limits. That’s what we are fighting against. We hit a ceiling because what we WANTED to happen, didn’t…it got hard…and hard is not fun. Hard means work…and work is…work. And yet, if we realized this going in…we would…we COULD be prepared when things go sideways…because we would expect it. And we would expect to put in INCREDIBLE effort.
Look Around The Corner
I’ve seen it enough times to know that the people who are consistently successful are the ones who worked their asses off when it looked like what they were doing was going to fail. They kept at it…and usually just a little bit longer than their peers. Success seems to work that way…always hiding behind the NEXT corner. You just have to be motivated to keep moving forward long enough to peek around it.
Motivated to break through the plateau.
You Can’t Return To Where You’ve Never Left
To RETURN means:
- You have to have LEFT your home
- You have to have LEFT your comfort
- You have to have LEFT your limits
You need to break free of these chains or they will KEEP you where you are. So…Leave. Do something different than you doing you. Be different in just one way. That is the start you need.
Bono can absolutely return home…because he LEFT. How many of U2’s friends wail away still…but never broke free?
It’s Not Ok
Listen…Maybe you think it’s OK to keep limiting yourself…to be comfortable with the plateau you are at. Well…it’s not. Not for you, not for your family, and not for your co-workers. You have to keep moving forward.
The next time you are in a situation that you seemingly can’t fix and your friends/colleagues start offering you some stupid suggestions that piss you off…Maybe try to let that anger remind you that there is something you probably could do…something that would be painful…and hard.
Then…go be different. Do that hard and painful thing. See what happens.
Shift your view beyond your plateau.