We have no problem burning ourselves out at work. Just Google “burnout at work” and you’ll see just how big of a problem it is.
With this being the case, an objective observer might expect that people regularly burn themselves out through physical activity as well. An objective observer would be wrong. (Except in rare cases like the Crossfit world.)
By and large, the average person rarely takes on physical challenges to the same degree we tackle work challenges. This is especially true once schooling is complete and athletics slowly fall away from the center of our lives (if they ever were there to begin with).
We gradually develop limiting beliefs about our ability to tackle physical challenges. Never mind that physical challenges are sometimes the one thing that give us mental breakthroughs.
Physical challenges expose our limiting beliefs and show us just how complacent or comfortable we become. We’re talking about things like:
- Skiing a double black diamond for the first time
- Running a marathon
- Swimming five miles
- Biking 100 miles
- Doing 100 pull-ups in an hour
Something on that list probably made you uncomfortable. At least one of them probably evoked a sense of “no way, not me.”
Your mind would agree. In fact, the Navy Seals have a term for this: the 40% rule. They say that the moment you think you should quit something (aka the moment your mind wants to quit), your body actually still has as much as 60% of its capacity left.
To be clear, 100% means you’ve physically exerted yourself to death. But that’s much more drastic than is necessary. Even pushing through to make use of 60% of our physical energy would give us a breakthrough like many of us have never experienced before.
Most of us will never embrace this possibility. Why? This kind of physical exertion is a choice. While some have physical injuries, ailments, and illnesses that would legitimately prevent us from testing this theory, the majority of us simply have a fear of leaving our comfort zone.
Being intentionally uncomfortable is a thing that we should experience more often. Intentionally seeking our opportunities to push past the 40% rule is the perfect way to challenge what we believe about our own potential.
So what’s a physical challenge you’ve always considered, but never had a reason to attempt? Who do you need to be there to help you make it happen (could you sign up for an advanced ski lesson or find a biking partner who’s done a centennial before)? When will you put it on the calendar?
You might surprise yourself with a breakthrough you didn’t know was in you.
Thanks to Val Geisler for the inspiration for today’s post.