When I came over to North America from Europe, I had been weight training intensely for 6 years and I was ‘famous’ (amongst the local gym members) for being very good at squatting. Being from Europe, I measured everything in kilograms. When I moved to Canada all the weights were marked with pounds, and I got annoyed with always having to convert pounds to kilograms. So I just thought to myself : “well, pounds are ‘little’ compared to kilograms so I just put on a lot of those ‘little things’ (pounds). Within 10 months I went from being able to squat 5 repetitions with 140 kgs (315 lbs.), to being able to squat 3 sets of 30 repetitions with 405 pounds of those ‘little thing’s’. One day I calculated what the 405 lbs. was in kilograms and could not believe the huge change in my own performance. Breaking through my own limits was not even intentional – rather just due to being too lazy to convert the weights. I simply didn’t have limitations because I had no history of pounds in my mind at all to limit me.
If you haven’t had the chance to watch the film ‘Running the Sahara’, please do. This is seemingly a film about running and endurance, but at the end (as one of the characters state’s it) their story is about the living proof that your limits will be where you set them. This statement comes from a guy with no major athletic background, but was able to run 170 marathons in 110 consecutive days, through the Sahara Dessert.
The breaking of the 600 lb. Clean & Jerk Olympic lifting mark was a similar example. Nobody was able to pass this 600 lb. mental barrier for years and years. But one day, the coach of one of the best weightlifters pulled a trick on his athlete and he secretly put an extra 4 lbs. on the bar without consulting the weightlifter, resulting in the new world record. Four other athletes were able to break the 600 lb. barrier within the next year, once the word got out. Once the mental barrier was broken down by someone, others were also able to perform the once believed impossible lift.
Being your best doesn’t have to mean that you compete and give up everything, but it rather means you don’t limit yourself with unnecessary obstacles. The obstacles are there, created by others, and you don’t need to buy into them.
Trick yourself in creative ways and see how far you can go at being the best parent, the best at your job, the best in your hobby, the best lover, or the best self-improver.
Examine your limits, your standards in areas that matter to you the most and come up with tricks to remove them.