Updated: Jul 19, 2021
The Ironman motto states “Anything is possible” and for the first time in my life, I actually believe it...
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m the first person to cringe whenever people throw around phrases like you can do anything you set your mind to or you can be anything you want to be. We typically hear these sayings at a young age from our parents, teachers and motivational speakers. The issue is that they often lack context and meaning. It wasn’t until I discovered the Ironman motto, when I actually took the time to consider what exploring your potential might actually mean.
Whether we are aware of it or not, we set goals and aspirations based off the limitations we put on ourselves. We base our health, fitness, academic, financial, relationship and career ambitions off our self-perceived potential. I previously thought I had a rough idea of my capabilities in these areas, however I’m starting to realise how incredibly wrong I was. I believe that the majority of others are in the same boat and massively underestimate their potential in all areas of life. Why? Because it’s a heck of a lot easier to set achievable goals, accomplish them with minimal effort and then celebrate with our friends and family. Setting truly ambitious goals comes with a great deal of uncertainty, vulnerability and risk. It takes a great deal of courage to set these types of goals which is often enough to scare off the majority of people from simply trying.
Uncomfortable Truth: Your only limitations are the ones you create in your own mind.
Hearing stories about people who have pushed through adversity and defied all odds to achieve incredible accomplishments, has never been enough to convince me of that I could do the same. This all changed however after I strived for and eventually accomplish a goal I genuinely didn’t think I was capable of achieving. There is something incredibly powerful about accomplishing something you previously thought you couldn’t do. It’s almost like you find the first piece of evidence that truly confirms the hypothesis; anything is possible. I strongly encourage you to pursue your own challenge so you can provide yourself with your own evidence. The feeling associated with debunking your pervious limiting beliefs gives you a whole new perspective on what's possible in life. This journey begins with one simple question; what if I could do that...?
After first discovering what an Ironman triathlon was in David Goggins’ book Can’t Hurt Me, I was utterly confused as to how it was physically possible for anyone to simply complete the event. Straight away I found myself justifying why I would never be able to achieve something like that and how it must only be possible for a special type of person with unique body type, or set of skills/ ability. After recognising my thought process, I attempted to gain a new perspective on the situation by asking myself a very simple question. What if I could do that? This simple question changed everything. Those two words (what if), opens our minds to the idea that something can be done. As soon as we say I could never do that, we shut down any possibility of that actually happening. In other words, a question opens the mind and a statement closes the mind. And just like that, the journey began with one simple question, what if?
We frequently buy into the narratives of; I don’t have the time, money, skill, resources or (insert your excuse here). We are so quick to justify why other people’s success simply isn’t attainable for us. I witnessed a 50-year-old man with a motor neuron disease, complete the Cairns Ironman in 17 hours. That involved completing a full marathon on crutches. I’m sorry but your excuse is bullshit. We all need to take a moment to re-evaluate and re-scale our career goals, life direction and potential impact we can have on the world. I say this because once you start striving for seemingly unrealistic goals, you will begin to realise that they are much more realistic than you originally thought.
- How to provide yourself with evidence that anything is possible -
Step 1: Set a meaningful goal that is 5 x more ambitious than any other goal you have set in your life. What achievement would you strive for if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Run a marathon? Complete an Ironman? Start a business? Learn a new language? Join a band?
Step 2: Spend time detailing the PROCESS that would lead to success. What will you have to do on a daily basis to achieve this goal?
How often will you need to train? How many hours practice will you need per day? How would you schedule in the time alongside your other commitments?
Tip: Learn from the behaviours of others who have already achieved your goal!
Step 3: Take mass action and be consistent.
It's now time to stop thinking and start doing. Go all in and show up every day.
Step 4: Learn from your failures and don’t stop until you reach your goal.
Expect to fail. When you do - reflect, learn and grow from the experience.
Keep repeating this process until you have succeeded in your pursuit.
There is nothing ground-breaking about the process it takes to explore your potential. The hardest part is having the courage to set truly ambitious goals and willing to accept failure along the way.
I have always been a very goal driven person who re-assess my goals at least every 6 months. However, my mistake has been that I would never asses the scale. Every goal I set was the same ‘reach’ from my current position. I feel like most of us do this, because it meets our need for certainty as we know deep down we are capable of achieving it. If we want to truly explore where our potential lies, then we need to be willing to set goals that are further away from our perceived reach.
I believe we all have a burning desire deep down to explore what we are truly capable of. It's tough however because today’s society tends to reward mediocrity and encourages you to not change who you are. Don't get me wrong, I am a big advocate for being happy and grateful for who you are and what you've previously achieved, however it's also just as important to consider how much more we can give to the world and who we can become in the process. Let's stop being complacent with our lives and start exploring our true potential.
Must read book: David Goggins - Can't Hurt Me