How Hard do you Push?

How hard do you push yourself when you’re under the pump? When it matters? Perhaps more importantly, how hard do you push yourself when no one’s looking?

I’ve been getting PT (personal training) for the last few weeks, and one of the first and most remarkable things I noticed was how much harder I pushed myself for my trainer. Numerous times during training I have said, “I can’t do anymore,” and she’s said “Yes, you can!” and so I did! Mind you, I did it with astounding grunts that have been heard in other parts of the building, but I did do it when I believed I couldn’t. If I had been training myself I would have done 2 sets, not 3, or only 8 in the last set, not 12. I would have held myself back.

It reminds me of the Big 5 Body by Science workouts, where you are supposed to push yourself to failure. How many times have I come away from the Big 5, and many other workouts, with a little energy to spare? How many times have I saved just a little and held some back? It’s kind of like cheating isn’t it?

If you haven’t watched the movie Gattaca this reference might be a bit vague (so go watch this movie, it’s brilliant), but bear with me.

Vincent and his brother Anton would compete to see who could swim the farthest out to sea. One day, Vincent, the inadequate son, not only outswam Anton, the boy gifted in every way, but ended up having to save Anton’s life, and drag his unconscious brother back to shore. Years later, as adults, they went out to compete once more, and once more, Vincent outswam his brother. Finally, Anton asks, “How did you do this? How did you do any of this?” and Vincent replies: “You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton: I never saved anything for the swim back.”

Take that into a work environment, and ask yourself, ‘how hard do you push yourself when no one’s looking?’ and consider if you’re coasting too much, and if you might be cheating yourself by not giving your best service at least most of the time. No one can give 100% 100% of the time, I get that, but surely we have more to give than we think? Do we underestimate our abilities, or are we just scared of being drained of all our creative resources, thinking we won’t be able to top ourselves back up? Aren’t we actually open to new input, new charges, if we’re empty?

What about in love and relationships? Perhaps we hold back too much too often? Will we really be empty if we give everything we have?

What if we tried? What if we didn’t save anything for the swim back? I wonder how much more we could accomplish.


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