“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” — Bruce Lee
How will you know your potential if you never venture to the edge of your limits?
Your comfort zone is a place where you feel secure though it is not where you will discover your potential.
People believe they must venture out of their comfort zone often and I caution them against it. Primarily because you become a thrill seeker if you push your limits without integrating the lessons learned.
Human beings are wired for growth, an essential component to life. You need only interact with those with little growth to see how they perceive life through a narrow filter.
Venturing to the edge of your limits is frightening because it involves stepping into the unknown where you risk failure and defeat, but also compromise your self-esteem.
This is one way of looking at it, what you aim to lose instead of what you have to gain.
Even though terrifying, what you will gain is far more valuable to your personal growth and what you’re likely to accomplish.
Authors Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness explain in Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success that the ego puts the brakes on reaching your limits as a protective measure: “Our “ego” or “self” or “central governor” serves as a protective mechanism that holds us back from reaching our true limits.”
Even if you fail. Even if you hurt your self-esteem, you will have pushed to the edge of your limits and expanded your possibilities.
It is in losing where you succeed.
You literally fail your way to success, while many people assume success is a series of consecutive wins.
Even the most talented amongst us fail more often than they succeed.
Similarly, it is unnecessary to go right to the edge of your limits from your current position. It requires gradually extending yourself and pushing past your limitations.
“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” — Arthur C. Clarke
For example, I recall when I first spoke on stage many years ago in front of a live audience. The fear and anxiety paralysed me and I often forgot what I rehearsed.
I stuttered and occasionally lost my train of thought throughout the presentation.
It was difficult and I recall wanting to give up since I feared I wasn’t as good as other accomplished speakers.
However, I was comparing myself to those in the business for decades. Therefore, it wasn’t indicative of my true abilities.
With time, commitment and dedication, I honed my skills. I gathered feedback from those I trusted because not all feedback is essentially good feedback.
I hired a speaking coach who forced me to film my speaking engagements and helped me inhabit my body by being mindful whilst speaking.
She taught me how to become a performer instead of reciting phrases which were less likely to make an impact.
She showed me how to speak from the heart and command presence on stage whilst interacting with the audience.
Her guidance was invaluable, yet without practice and commitment, I might have remained a mediocre speaker or given up altogether.
I was willing to venture to the edge of my limits because I wasn’t aware of my capabilities.
“A self-transcending purpose not only allows us to overcome our greatest fears and break through our limits, it also improves our performance in less heroic, everyday activities,” affirm Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness.
I recall one time, I was an audience member waiting to hear the main speaker of the evening. He was running late after flying in from interstate. I was approached by the organiser whom I knew, to see whether I could fill in for thirty minutes until he arrived.
To say I was frightened is an understatement. I was about to speak in front of hundreds of people without a script or having rehearsed the topic.
Till then, every seminar and workshop I ran involved meticulous preparation and rehearsal. This time was different because I had to step out of my comfort zone.
It is interesting because practice makes perfect since something magical happened that evening. Words came forth easily during the thirty minutes which felt like five minutes in hindsight.
When I got off stage, I couldn’t remember the presentation because I had improvised it. However, given my earlier years of practice and recording videos, it must have slipped its way into my subconscious mind.
Had I not been in the audience that day, I might have missed the opportunity to practice my skills and venture to the edge of my limits.
Was it frightening?
It was sweat and tears for the first five minutes until I moved around on stage and practised the skills I was taught.
“You only know yourself when you go beyond your limits.” — Paulo Coelho
As I am writing this, an update on my LinkedIn message feed appeared from author Greg McKeown who wrote Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
He states: “I just talked to someone who is really afraid of public speaking. I told him I am too! I speak all around the world but I am ALWAYS nervous. Always. And I don’t ever expect or want to change that. The fear fuels preparation.”
Greg strikes at the heart of people’s greatest fear when he says: the fear fuels preparation. It is what author Susan Jeffers calls: Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway.
So are you venturing to the edge of your limits?
If not, what is stopping you?
Are you willing to confront your fears?
These are questions to ask yourself if you want to live purposefully.
You cannot hope things will change on their own because they won’t.
Nothing changes until you take the first step which needn’t be a monumental one either. It can be a move to overcome your fears and doubts.
The rest will follow as you push past your limits and your journey unfolds as you walk the path of greatness.
Psychologist and author Rick Hanson writes in Resilient: 12 Tools For Transforming Everyday Experiences Into Lasting Happiness how we avoid that which we fear, though it eventually creates an invisible barrier around us: “People often swerve away from their dreams to avoid risking experiences they dread…The edges of the experiences we fear form a kind of invisible fence that limits the life we allow ourselves to have.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to explore my potential and leave nothing to chance.
I want to know what I’m capable of.
I want to live fearlessly.
I want to live boldly while daring greatly, even when I don’t have the answers.
The strange thing is, I don’t know how it will happen but that doesn’t matter because my resolve is more important than the finer details.
The details have a way of revealing themselves as you explore your potential and venture to the edge of your limits.
Sometimes you must go on blind faith and be willing to be guided by determination alone.
Author Wayne Cordeiro states in Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion: “Potential always lies ahead of you, not behind you. It is found in what can still be done, not in what you have already done.”
I want you to venture to the edge of your limits at least once a month for the next six months.
Imagine what you can achieve by the end of the year?
Do something daring.
Publish an article on a topic completely outside your comfort zone.
Create a piece of music, art or software programme that defies the industry standard.
Be the Elon Musk of your world, but don’t expect it to go viral because that is not the purpose.
The purpose is to get accustomed to venturing to the edge of your limits.
The purpose is to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
It is only then will your limits expand and infinite possibilities will be known.
Originally published at medium.com