Why is it that we all have no problem with ignoring the limits that are placed on how fast we are allowed to drive but will avoid doing things that may challenge us because we have already placed a limit on our potential for success?
We turn away from difficulties largely in fear. We are afraid to embarrass ourselves, we are afraid of failing, we are afraid to try. There are so many great experiences in life that require a leap of faith to bridge the gap between sitting on the sideline and actively participating. We are all to frequently having our route towards joy blocked by our own ego. Trying something new means accepting that you will not be good at whatever it is when you first try. The first time you pick up a bat and stand at home plate the odds are against you hitting a home run. But not excelling shouldn’t be an excuse to try. Everything begins with a first step.
Being willing to fail is the first hurdle in the climb towards success. If you can get over yourself and make that opening move towards being a participant instead of a spectator then you have already won your first battle.
Those first steps generally come with some nervousness and that is how it should be. My brother once said to me that when you are nervous it is not about trying to get rid of the butterflies in your stomach but instead its about getting them to fly in formation. Taking that nervous energy and channeling it teaches you so much about facing your fears and doing it anyway. I remember the first time I had to break a board with a punch when I was beginning my training in Taekwondo. I was terrified that it would be hand that ended up broken. I faced that fear and used all that nervous energy to deliver the force necessary to break through the board. Over the next decade I broke hundreds of boards, eventually moving on to breaking two inch thick pieces of concrete and finally stacks of concrete. When I stopped training I had gotten to the point where I was able to break through a stack of concrete 20 inches high. If I’d never risen to the challenge of breaking that first board then I never would have been able to discover what I was capable of.
Every time I am faced with a new challenge or experience I simply say to myself, ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ In almost every case the worst is only scary when it is imagined and not so bad when it is actually thought through. All too often the worst case scenario is more about looking foolish than actually hurting myself.
There is no doubt that there are real physical limits that will stop anyone from going forward. But I’m not concerned about the fact that I will never be able to run a four minute mile. What does matter though is that I am willing to run a mile and check the clock to see how long it took, so that the next time I can work towards running it faster. I don’t care that other people will run it faster or that I may look funny as I struggle with my stride, as long as I am trying my best. If I give all that I have then there is nothing to be embarrassed about. And if I continue to run more miles then I know that I will get faster. I don’t say to myself I can only go this fast because the truth is just by doing the run I am already ahead and by committing myself to trying it again then I am preparing myself for future successes, regardless of physical limits because I know those limits are not set in stone. Those limits are moveable and I can push pass them if I try.
Life should be about feeling free to try and not about being afraid of failing. Let your instinct take over and step up to the plate, feel the weight of the bat, the sun on your face and when that ball comes your way just swing away. You never know, you might surprise yourself and hit one out of the park.