There have been a couple of extraordinary events so far this week, and it’s only Wednesday morning. Both have pushed way past the boundaries of what most of us would consider do-able, and both got me thinking about what it is that holds a lot of us back.
The first was Felix Baumgartner’s skydive from the edge of space, jumping from the safety of his capsule at 128,100 feet (about 39km’s) and hurtling back towards earth breaking the sound barrier, reaching speeds of over 1300 kilometres per hour, free falling for about 4 minutes and 20 seconds before pulling his parachute and landing safely back on earth. Phew! Just writing that out was an adrenaline rush. For me (and plenty of you too I’m sure) the thought of jumping out of a plane at 12,000 feet, let alone 128,000 feet is enough to send me into a cold sweat.
So back to what stops us. My initial thought was it’s fear, but when I thought a little harder I realised it is more than that. It’s the limits we place on ourselves. We all have this inbuilt limit threshold, a barrier that prevents us from taking the next step, moving into unknown territory, preferring instead to stay within the comfort zone we know. The only true limits are the one’s we give ourselves. For some these limits are beliefs or decisions and may be disguised as fear because it’s easier for someone to say “I’m scared” than “I can’t”.
But, and this is a big question I ask a lot of my clients, “how do you know you can’t if you’ve never tried?” What limits have you placed on yourself? And more importantly where did those limits come from?
From a very early age we are influenced by what we see and hear from our parents, older siblings, grandparents, teachers, friends, television, radio, billboards…..I could go on and on but I think you get the drift. Think about a belief you have. Do you know why you have it or where you got it from?
I’ve got a couple I can think of, one is that I’m tone deaf and therefore shouldn’t sing in public. This goes back as far as I can remember, so guess what, I think I can’t sing in tune – so no X Factor for me. The other is I’ve got a great sense of direction, and guess what, I very rarely get lost. From these couple of examples you can see that our beliefs can work either for us or against us.
Let’s go back to Felix Baumgarter and why he was able to jump from 128,100 feet. Baumgarter said, “You can feel in your stomach and every part of your body that it does not want to be there”. For the majority of us, this feeling would be enough to stop us. But not so for Felix because he had a total belief that he could do it. His belief was so strong that it was able to negate the feelings and silence the questioning voice in his head.
This is a technique he has learnt and developed. There are various methods available today where you can learn how to manage (or remove) your limiting beliefs and decisions, how to quieten that nagging voice in your head and replace it with a supportive one, how to prepare yourself to do something out of your comfort zone, how to relax and focus on what it is you want to achieve, how to get rid of a phobia that’s stopping you.
Now, I’m not suggesting we should all head out there and attempt to skydive from the edge of space. That was Felix’s dream, not yours.
What I am suggesting though is that next time you think you can’t do something, think again because you can if you want to badly enough. Listen to what the negative voice in your head is telling you, and turn it around, use the information wisely. It doesn’t have to be anything major, try it out on something small and see how simple it is. These small ‘convincers‘ will become the stepping stones to you achieving more and more, and the more you are prepared to test your limits the more you will achieve.
As you might have guessed this is a topic close to my heart and I got a little carried away so you will have to wait for tomorrow for the other extraordinary event.
I’ll finish off today with a quote from Felix Baumgarter, “Everyone has limits – not everyone accepts them”.