Why and how to play impossible games

Photo courtesy of ACDX and Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of ACDX and Wikimedia Commons

What’s your limit? I just watched the Ironman in Boulder, Colorado and I got to see a group of 2,500 people pushing themselves to their absolute limit. The experience was amazing and inspiring. It made me realize that most people go their whole lives without playing what I call an impossible game.

What is an impossible game? An impossible game is something you have thought about doing that you aren’t sure you can achieve. Being a best- selling author, running a marathon, creating a billion dollar company, etc. It’s something that keeps creeping up in the back of your mind and calls to you and, at the same time, terrifies you. Most people stuff these thoughts down in their subconscious and take it to their graves.

In my time working as a COO for a financial services company I got to witness an impossible game first hand. The CEO of the company declared that he wanted to make his book a New York Times Best Seller. It seemed ludicrous since none of us knew how to get a book published let alone make it a best seller. That declaration in that moment set the wheels in motion and a year and two months later our book, Killing Sacred Cows, is #6 in the hard cover advice category.

If you aren’t playing an impossible game, let me ask you something, why not? After almost seven years of performance coaching, there are a few recurring patterns that show up that hold people back.

  1. Fear
    I have it, you have it and the most successful people in the world have it. The question is, what are you going to do with it? The clients I work with that have the biggest breakthroughs face their fears and move forward. Stop worrying about looking bad or what people might think if you are successful. Their opinion doesn’t matter. If you’re not looking bad some of the time, you aren’t trying hard enough.
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  3. Thought
    Cultivating your impossible game requires thinking about your impossible game. That means you have to do one of two things. First you need to acknowledge that you have big hopes and dreams. Second you need to create the space to think about those hopes and dreams and mapping out your next steps. It’s easy to get so caught up into just living every day that you forget to stop and assess what you are doing and why.
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  5. You are wrong about your limits
    You can go way further than you think. Most people underestimate how far they can really go. Trust me on this. Running cross country in college taught me how far we can push ourselves and what we are capable of achieving if we just set out on a course to do it. This is why you should have a coach. This is why you should surround yourselves with big thinkers that will encourage your impossible game rather than squash it.

What’s your impossible game? What’s holding you back? How often do you tell yourself, “Oh I could never do that.”? I watched a guy in the Ironman sit down every several minutes, stand up, puke his guts out and then start running again. He had 16 miles left to go. That’s dedication. You can do it too. So go run an Ironman, climb Mt. Everest or start that company. I’ll be waiting at the finish line telling you I knew you could do it.

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