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Limits, Like Fears, Are Often an Illusion

November 8, 2009

The words in my title may sound familiar to you, especially if you watched the speech Michael Jordan gave as he was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. At the very end of his talk, these words were uttered shortly after he teased at returning to basketball when he would be 50. Knowing Michael, with his talent and competitiveness, we will see him on the court again.

What limits do you live under? When I type that question, I picture a guy hunkering under an umbrella, limited to ambient-umbrellamove about for fear of getting wet. In some form or fashion, there is an umbrella we all hunker under, leaving us immobile and afraid. It paralyzes us, leaves us content to stand where we are and never reach for something more.

“Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true,” was a quote from Bohdi, a Patrick Swazye character in the movie, Point Break. It never fails that at the moment we are most enthralled to overcome our fears, that we are often pulled back, caught in an intangible paralysis that locks us up from never taking the moment to be ours.

Roger Bannister was the first man to run a 4-minute mile. Prior to that run, many thought it impossible. No one thought the human body able to run so fast – and so the limits placed on many were due in part to this belief. Bannister thought otherwise and took on conventional thought, shattering that illusion. Oddly enough, within a month of Bannister’s record, a rival beat his record by 2 seconds. Would his rival have ever beat 4-minutes as well, had Roger never crossed that thresh hold? We may never know.

What we do know is that the human body AND mind are capable of so much more than once thought possible. And that ability continues to be researched and renewed. A workout is a great demonstration of pushing those limits. I can recall the first time I set foot in a gym and started lifting weights. There was a leg press machine that maxed out at 900 lbs. I asked if anyone had done that much and the manager said, “Yes, your quads are one of your largest muscles, so it’s very possible.” Despite his factual reply, it was nice to know it was possible, but not for the likes of me. Well, I was wrong. Within 12 months of joining and with a lot of support with a group of mine, three of us did three reps of 900 lbs. How is it that a guy who weighed close to 160 could leg press 900 lbs.? Beats me, but it still makes me smile.  Mission accomplished.  If you think hard, you’ve had a similar experience.  Admit it.  Deep down inside I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.  So consider this a reminder.

The human spirit can soar. It can also sit on the couch and believe that is where the story ends. It’s up to you to push that spirit. Put down the remote, toss aside that negative attitude and believe. You, yes you, can do it. IT.  And IT can be a lot of things.

Limits, like fears, are often an illusion.  Illusions are only possible when we use our eyes.  Don’t use your eyes – use your heart.  Believe what you feel.  Believe in yourself.  Then, and only then, will your fears give way to some pretty spectacular accomplishments.

Close your eyes.  Close your umbrella.  And believe.

What accomplishment did you achieve recently that you once never thought possible – share it in the comments section below.  Or click here for a great workout program you can start within a week.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 8, 2009 5:27 pm

    Hey Jeff. I love the analogy of the ‘protective umbrella’. What’s the worst that could happen? A person may get a little wet. And I LOVE Point Break. Great post. We often don’t push past our fear…to achieve what we are capable of….until we become conscious of it, aware of what we’re doing. Gotta strive to thrive. Great post.

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