There was an old teaching in the Kung Fu school I trained at that said, “The mind was your limit, but you could actually do more than what you thought you could.” I had no idea how this would eventually translate into my career, leadership, and personal development. I had to go through a few situations to show myself how separate thinking and experience could be to really appreciate this lesson. Let me share a few of these stories to illustrate:
One of the regimens used to train legs in what was called the ‘horse stance’. Basically you stood with your legs a little bit past shoulder length, bend the knees, and then held that pose for 30 to 60 seconds. If you’ve never done it, I suggest you find examples on YouTube (from a decent teacher) and give it a try. Hands down it’s the best leg challenge you will ever do! I digress, what I noticed was my mind imagined how I’d feel and then allowed my body to feel that level of discomfort.
A funny thing happened when the instructor set the timer for two minutes instead of one (without telling the class). My legs felt the same burn at 60 seconds, but I actually held it for 120 seconds. He said he was setting one minute so I adjusted my expectation to match, he would call out 20 seconds, 40 seconds, at further intervals and the class actually believed it. We were twice as productive and we realized we could push ourselves further than we believed.
When I was a career advisor I had to reach out to potential employers to build better educational programs (and ultimately help students get jobs). I would contact these employers via social media, networking events and one-on-one meetings. My boss challenged me by suggesting I make more calls or contact more groups than I thought I could do. I didn’t think it would work based on based on my previous experience. But I tried it anyway and everything went very well. By getting out of my comfort zone, like suggested, I actually made more connections (and helped our students).
Through the years I’ve been able to utilize this understanding of perceived limits to help students, reach out to businesses, help startups, and help employees reach new levels of productivity.
Using these experiences, I realized my mind predicts how events may pan out and my expectation adjusts to that mental evaluation. So to combat this level of ‘analytical limitation’ I push myself to a goal that is beyond what I think will play out. This has helped me set goals, plan actions and deliver results. Here’s how I do it.
- Look at past performance to help establish a realistic trend or goal.
- Analyze what I think is realistic, but then push just beyond that perceived limitation.
- Take the risk. Set that stretch goal! Once it’s out there, it’s on!
I’ve learned how my analytical side looks at trends, predicts roadblocks and creates a perceived limit. Then I push out of my comfort zone and work to that new level. Only then did I learn to really push past limits and achieve higher rates of success. Now it’s your turn. How have you pushed past limits? Share your stories below. I’d love to hear them!