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Our Limits Are What We Make Them

04/06/2017 04:15 EDT | Updated 04/06/2017 04:15 EDT

Today, as I struggled to hold two three-minute plank sets, my mind wandered and I wondered what the record might be for the longest time anyone has ever held a plank. (For those unfamiliar with a plank pose, you basically hold the top of a push up with a straight body -- like a plank -- for as long as possible.)

I Google searched the record and was quite humbled to discover that China's Mao Weidong held a plank for 8 hours, 1 minute and 1 second. While I will never come close to matching this record, knowing what has been done has certainly reset my thinking on what is possible.

mao weidong

This experience got me thinking about how our sense of what is realistic or not might actually limit our own possibility. Does our sense of what is possible become the very limits holding us back?

Consider running a four-minute mile. It was thought to be impossible until Roger Bannister broke the four-minute barrier in 1954. The record now stands at 3:43 and the mile has been run in under four minutes at least 4,500 times. This is just one example of how a bold pioneer broke through a supposed boundary and paved the way for thousands to follow and do the same.

We must stop seeing the limits we think exist and instead believe in the possibilities that we haven't yet achieved.

It seems obvious that we should look to "limit busters" as inspiration, the trailblazers with an unwillingness to accept self-imposed boundaries and constraints. Often through sheer determination and hard work, these individuals far surpass limits and expectations. These people must be our role models. We must use their inspiration to challenge the large and small restrictions we have imposed on ourselves.

This leads me to wonder, which of our current limitations will we smash through next? What are the next impossibilities to become possibilities, and how do we change our mindset to envision these break-through moments? I am sure within each of us are artificial limits which hold back our bodies, minds, abilities and spirits. These can limit the growth of our communities and societies. How can we unleash our full potential and break free of these limiting beliefs that are holding us back?

roger bannister may 6 1954

Roger Bannister breaks the four-minute mile in 3 Minutes 59.4 Seconds. (Photo: Allsport UK/Getty Images)

I believe we must reframe the way in which we see the world and ourselves as participants in it. We must redefine what is possible, to stop seeing the limits we think exist and instead believe in the possibilities that we haven't yet achieved. We must vanquish and ignore the naysayers that want us to aim lower or whose own limit-setting mindset spills over into the world around them.

Remember, their imposed limits are a reflection of them, not of you. Extraordinary human achievement is not possible in a context of small-mindedness, pessimism and limited imagination. We must embrace our own potential and surround ourselves with those that will push us forward. After all, our limits are what we make them.

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