A Brief Guide to Disproving Human Limits

Written by Scott June 5, 2012

how to push limits goruck

“If we don’t push you to your mental and physical edge, then we have failed you.” – Goruck Challenge Cadre, June 2nd, 2012, 9:15 pm, on a cold and windy San Francisco night

The Testing (and Disproving) of Limits

The people who do work that matters, the Living Legends who impact the world, all have at least one trait in common.

They push limits.

And it’s not some chore they force themselves to do every once in a while just to get where they want to go. Not even close.

It’s something they do daily, in one way or another, big or small.

It’s a fundamental part of how they operate.

Last Saturday night around 9 pm I found myself standing in a dark wet field in San Francisco’s Presidio. The air temperature was just under 50 degrees (before factoring in the 30-40 mph wind and blanket of myst typical of my lovely hometown).

I was wearing a headlamp and a 47-pound backpack. Seven close friends were standing next to me, along with a couple LYL readers (who heard about the event through my Richard Branson fitness post). There were also about 80 more of us I’d yet to meet.

Then, as if on queue, the sprinklers came on. The timing could not have been worse (or better, depending on who you asked)…

We spent the next twelve hours getting a first class education in breaking boundaries, from our Special Forces instructor (or Cadre, as they were called). The adventure took our team across most of San Francisco, covering between 15 and 20 miles by running, hiking, crawling and even duck walking (no, I did not know what that was either – until last weekend). We even got the pleasure of doing a few sets of sunrise pushups in the crisp breaking shoreline.

Important Note: frigid salt water + sand + miles of running, do not make for the most pleasant of combinations.

This was the Goruck Challenge.

And we had all paid good money to be there.

I’d love to give more details, but I’d hate to ruin the surprise for those of you who decide to take part (upcoming event schedule can be found here ;)).

Why go through the pain?

It’s easy to hear about such an event and think “why the hell would anyone sign up, let alone pay to do it?” It’s the obvious question, and most my family and friends asked the same. In fact at about 4am, as I reverse bear crawled up Lombard Street, I found myself thinking similar thoughts.

But you could ask this of any endeavor actually worth doing:

  • Loving someone
  • Starting a business
  • Pursuing a passion
  • Running a marathon
  • Losing 60 pounds

The biggest rewards will always involve pain to get there. The people who avoid the pain also manage to avoid the feelings and experiences that bridge the gap between average and extraordinary.

Those of you who’ve been a part of the Live Your Legend community know that at least a couple times a year, I like to go out and do something impossible: Pick something I’ve never done and take a crack at it. In the past this has included running marathons and ultra-marathons, summiting mountains and swimming across the SF bay with a group of 12-year-olds.

This is also why last year Live Your Legend partnered with the youth charity impossible2Possible.

So far, I’m pretty sure Goruck tops the charts.

But all these events come back to a simple fact:

When you do things you’ve never done before, your psychology changes.

And with a different state of mind, your world gets redesigned.

And you don’t even have to try – as long as you’re always pushing and testing, the change happens on its own.

Here’s an easy way to get started.

Turn limits into milestones

The simple process for disproving human limits:

1. Pick something you’ve never done. It doesn’t matter what it is you decide to take on – the above are just examples from a guy who loves intense physical adventure. But it could be giving a speech, leading a group, writing an article or asking someone out on a date.

The key is doing things you used to tell yourself (consciously or subconsciously) that you couldn’t do – Anything you’ve always said you ‘wanted’ to do but always seemed to find a ‘reason’ why it didn’t make sense. That’s often our silent way of justifying inaction.

In fact, anything new will suffice.

2. Do it with someone. Everything is more fun to do with others. It’s also a lot more likely to happen. Last weekend would have been altogether miserable if I wasn’t sharing the experience with seven good friends.

The same goes for training and preparation. I have my good buddies Leo Babauta and Uri Fridman to thank for turning me onto Goruck. Leo and I do a lot of training together and he knows how much I love fitness challenges. In fact I ended up being a guest contributor for the fitness challenge/limit testing portion of a new Simple Fitness Habits course he’ll be launching in the next month or so. It was a ton of fun! I’ll be sure to let you guys know when it’s out.

As always, having the right people in your corner is everything.

3. Find motivation. Find a compelling reason why it’s important that you actually see this through. What benefits might accomplishing it allow you? What pain will result if you stay where you are?

4. Get moving. The most importnat ingredient is making progress. Pick a date or an event. And make small steps toward that every day. The momentum will build faster than you realize.

If you’re ever in doubt, make some progress, no matter how small.

All of us have physical and mental abilities far outside of what we’ll ever get to experience.

It’s crazy how much more capable people are than they give themselves credit for. I don’t care how hard you try, you can usually take at least one more step.

Most limits, when the right focus and intensity is applied, simply turn into milestones.

Think about yours, be it physical, mental, business or whatever. At some point in life, most meaningful accomplishments seemed undoable…Right up until you did them.

Everything’s impossible until someone decides to disprove it.

But limits never change if you don’t test them.

After 12 hours of grueling adventure and exercise, suddenly a massive presentation doesn’t seem like such a big deal (you can tell I’ve been thinking about the How to Connect with Anyone talk I’m giving at the Wold Domination Summit next month ;)).

A tough day at work, loses some of its sting.

A failed sale or hard rejection no longer hits you like a punch to the gut.

Knowing what your body and mind are capable of, puts things into an unbelievably powerful perspective.

And perspective is everything.

How often do you test limits?

When was the last time you did something that proved a past assumption wrong?

This mentality is not optional. You cannot Live Your Legend without it. In fact, it’s one of The 17 Habits of People Who Change the World.

The more we attempt, the more we accomplish. 

The more we accomplish, the more we attempt.

Confidence built in one area of our life, immediately transfers to another.

Most edges are a state of mind.

With every new experience, they expand.

Without the experiences, life contracts.

Skipping out on a year of lifting weights will not leave you just as strong. You grow or you atrophy. Those are the only two options. There is no middle ground. Complacency kills.

You can always take one more step

After just over 12 hours, at about 9:30 am Sunday morning, I found myself on the same field where we’d started. The only thing left to do was carry our partner (and both of our packs) across the grass to the finish line.

It took us 15 minutes to cover 100 yards.

It was chaos. But there was still one step left in us. There usually is.

You just have to condition yourself to take it.

So I’ll ask again.

How often do you test what you’re actually capable of?

It’s time to start turning limits into milestones.

If you need me, I’ll be recovering…

-Scott

P.S. Please share one experience in the comments below: either a past limit that became a milestone, or a future limit you plan to disprove. Give us some motivation! (email readers click here for the comments)

And keep an eye out for that fitness course in the next month or so. It was a blast to be a part of!

Now here are a few pictures from the adventure:

The happy beginning

the happy beginning

covering ground

covering ground

late night swim

late night swim

Goruck 12 hours later

12 hours later

Now it’s your turn. Share one limit-breaking experience or goal in the comments! (email readers click here)

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