Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Are Your Limitations?

Teammates – Today’s topic is about limitations – it’s about understanding the difference between limitations that are discovered versus limitations that are self-imposed. Understanding this distinction is critically important to you - to me - to all of us!

Everyone has limitations: I know for a fact that I will not be running a 4 minute mile in my lifetime. I know for a fact, because I’ve tried – vomited – tried again, and again and again (threw-up all along way). I now realize that 5 min and 20 secs is the best I’m going to do…and I’m absolutely comfortable with that. I discovered my running limitations over years of trying and winning such prestigious high school cross country awards as: “Swifter than the Continental Drift Award” or “Faster than a Growing Hickory Tree Award” (actual awards I received at my cross country awards dinner in high school). I can sleep at night knowing that I’ll never run a 4 min mile because I know in my heart that I have given everything that I WAS WILLING to give it to try to conquer this limitation. I discovered this limitation on my own – I didn’t take the word of my coach or my friends (they said I’d never break 6 mins).

However, there’s another kind of limitation that is much – much - more insidious, and if you’re not careful and cognizant of it, you may commit one of the great travesties in life, that is, living a life with self imposed limitations. I call it “one of the great travesties” – hell you can call it a great sin – for no one should accept someone else’s limitation as their own. Ask Lance Armstrong if he’d be happier right now if he had accepted the first doctor’s recommendation to give up cycling!

I use the word “insidious” because self-imposed limitations creep up on you – they come from credible sources such as doctors or friends or even fathers. They’re not trying to intentionally sabotage your chances of success – they are (in most cases, unless we’re dealing with the jealous and insecure types) usually trying to protect you from “failing” or perhaps from injury either mentally or physically (from failing). They’re passing along limitations that they’ve either discovered or have chosen to accept as true because they heard it from someone they trusted. The trick is to identify the self-imposed limitations from the ones you’ve discovered and accepted as fact.

We all have limitations, after all there’s only so much time each of us has to pursue goals in our lives (and in my 4 min mile quest, I was unwilling to move to Kenya, lose a 100lbs and be chased by lions in an attempt to break my 5 min and 20 sec mile limitation!). The key is living the life we want by determining which limitations we are willing accept versus the ones we willingly commit to crushing. When you identify the limitations in your life that are holding you back from living the life you want – well then – CONGRATULATIONS!!!, because you, my friend, have just discovered your path to freedom!

What are you waiting for? Go find some limitations worth crushing! And let your teammates know the joy you’ve encountered from conquering them! HOOYAH!!


Blue plaque recording the first ever sub-4-minute mile run by Roger Bannister on 6 May, 1954 at Oxford University's Iffley Road Track.


Nancy B. said...

That can apply to so many life situations!
Good one!!
Thank you,
Nancy B.

Jim said...

Very nice article Alden!

Joe G. said...

Around 1990 at around age 30, I was unable to jog a mile. This bothered me. I'd always been athletic (non-smoker, non-drinker - both of which are overrated now, I realize). I started jogging. That was nearly 20 years ago. If I had to go jog 10 miles RIGHT NOW, as I'm typing this - it would not be a big problem.

Fast forward to about the year 2006. I was unable to do a single "chinup" (hands facing towards you), much less a single pullup (hands facing away - they're harder). Started working on it. Today, I can do a bunch, and what's exciting is I realize even though my friends (or even family) may think this is STRANGE at my age, I know for a fact it is not strange at all. It's called enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Joe G. said...

"I know for a fact that I will not be running a 4 minute mile in my lifetime."


Lisa A said...

Fabulous blog Alden!! I was just reading the other day about Roger Banister. They said, the 4 minute mile mark couldn't be broken. Go Roger!

Yet, that same year after Roger ran his sub 4 minute mile so did something like 30 other men. And the following year around 300 some guys ran a sub-4 minute mile I find that fascinating :)