You’re not limited
Over and over in the history of mankind there have arisen men and women who have reminded us of our potential as the human species. On a misty Saturday morning, October 12, 2019, in Vienna, a Kenyan marathoner, Eliud Kipchoge, broke the two hours marathon limit. Before Kipchoge took on the challenge of running a marathon in under two hours, it was almost unimaginable that any human being had the capability of running for twenty-six miles at an average pace of 4.3 minutes per mile. Experts who often studied others but never put themselves in a challenge thought it was humanly impossible to run at that speed for two hours. But years ago, another unimaginable athletic feat had been accomplished. On May 6th, 1954, Roger Bannister, a British middle-distance athlete did what doctors believe would collapse the human heart due to pressure, he ran a mile in four minutes. Interestingly, Bannister ended up being a neurologist, studying the organ that epitomizes the human potential; the brain. He is quoted as saying, “It is the brain, not the heart or lungs, that is the critical organ. These two men of different race and background are a great reminder of our potential. and will always stand in history to remind us that we are not limited. Studying their lives only reveals what’s at the heart of progress.
At the heart of progress
I am currently serving a non-profit organization, Men Impact Change, that identifies and honors men in the community who are positively shifting the culture by bridging the gap in areas such as economic disparities and breaking generational cycles of fatherlessness. All the men who have been honored in the last five years have one major thing in common; they have all endured hardships and beaten all odds to be successful and impactful. Whether you are Eliud Kipchoge, Roger Bannister, or a person of impact, you will discover that endurance is at the heart of all human progress.
Endurance is the ability to stick through the pain of progress with the sight of glory at the end of the process. Endurance is what will make you show up the next day after having a bad day today. William Barclay, a renowned Scottish Author is quoted, “Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” I am convinced that if we are going to reap the rewards of what we put our minds to do, the fruits of progress in life, we must learn how to build endurance. We must take on life as a marathon. That’s why the focus of today’s post is the three essential ingredients that are at the core of building a life of endurance. Let’s get started:
The best metaphoric description of discipline was provided by late Jim Rohn, the American entrepreneur and author, when he said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” It is impossible to make progress, to move from goals and aspirations to results and accomplishments without having a disciplined life.
Discipline is developed by knowing three things. First, knowing what you want. This helps you have a reference point. When Eliud Kipchoge decided that he would one day break the two-hour barrier, he elevated his training regimen despite having one of the best training practices given that he is the most decorated marathoner in history. When you know what you want, you shift how you approach life. Second, knowing what it takes to achieve what you want. Often most people spend too much time talking about what they want instead of finding ways of how to achieve what they want. Identifying what it takes for progress to be made is a result of preparation. And preparation is what reinforces your will power to remain disciplined. Third, knowing the impact of what you want when you achieve it. This is visualizing the glory of what you want once you achieve it. A good example is provided again by Kipchoge. In his quest for running a sub-2-hour marathon, it was clear that he knew the glory was not him being recognized but making it known that no human is limited.
What’s one thing you want to achieve in your lifetime that will require you to live a disciplined life? Answering this question will help you live a focused and unclenched life.
2. Focused and unclenched
The second critical piece that is at the substratum of endurance is focusing and unclenching. I discovered a very interesting place to be in mentally when it comes to performance. Towards the end of last summer, one Saturday morning, my friend David and I went for a run. As we were running, I was struggling to keep up with him – admitting I was overweight – when he moved closer to me and said, “Remain unclenched and focus on the upcoming hill.” Those words were like a rocket booster to me. I felt a fresh burst of energy from within and I made it up the hill. That day I run longer than I had done in the whole summer and made a counter intuitive discovery; when we focus on what’s important it helps us remain relaxed and calm (unclenched). This helps channel our energy in the right direction and on the most beneficial task at hand. This alignment of energy and what’s important allows endurance to be developed with ease.
Focusing is possible when you have the right perspective. Living in a world of constant distraction, I have learned that knowing what’s important and true is the best way to shape my perspective and maintain focus. Also, surrounding yourself with like-minded people will help you remain focused on what’s important and true. Once you find your focus, it’s easier to unclench and allow all your effort to be directed at what will produce the greatest results. Tony Robbins’ quote, “Your life is controlled by what you focus on” always reminds me of the importance of focus.
What’s one area in your life that you need to focus on? And what’s one area of your life you need to stop focusing on? Answering this question is not only important to finding your focus and remaining unclenched but also fulfilling your purpose.
The third essential ingredient to building endurance and supports the first two ingredients is purpose. Purpose is what helps you connect what you are doing to the larger world. It’s what makes what you are doing have meaning and impact more people. Connecting your goals and aspirations in life to something bigger and greater than yourself is the sure way to elevate your sight above the current challenges and difficulties. It helps you see more and do more. It give you hope and zeal to always get better.
One of the best three points shorter in the NBA, Steph Curry, has linked his performance on the basketball court with saving lives in Africa. He collaborates with a foundation that donates a mosquito net that prevents malaria in Africa. For every 3-pointer Curry made, three insecticide-treated bed nets are donated. This act made Curry’s shots reach far and beyond the basketball court because it is connected to purpose.
My journey to be a better person has made me connect what I love doing, speaking and writing to a life of daily finding ways to add value to people around me, including you through this post. I have seen my endurance grow in all areas of my life. This has led me to another discovery. Endurance is a muscle that when developed in one area of your life, can transform all other areas of your life. So, the final question for you is, what purpose do you need to connect to what you love doing or your calling in life?
We can agree that endurance is important if we want to see progress in our lives, especially on the important things that moves us closer to our destiny. I strongly encourage you to consider the three questions I have asked you at the end of each section. This will give the lessons learned here effective and produce results in your life. Lastly, I will leave you with this advice by Roger Bannister, “The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.”