Imagine doing this: swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles, and then cap it off with a full marathon (26.2 miles). Brutal? Absolutely. But that’s not all. You need to cover the entire distance within 17 hours out in the heat or cold, one with the elements, to earn the title “ironman.”
Such is the full-distance (popularly called ironman distance) triathlon, arguably the most difficult test of endurance that only a tiny percentage of the human population will ever complete in their lifetime.
It may seem impossible to many of us just by reading about it, but hundreds of people become ironmen every year. These are not just your stereotype of athletically inclined individuals or sporty fellows. They include your regular Joes with bellies, bad habits and big dreams, who hold day jobs and have family responsibilities.
How do they do it?
British professional triathlete Chrissie Wellington knows how. In her five-year professional career she has competed in 13 full ironman races, and won every single one of them. What she said about her continued success:
“Anything is possible… and your limits might not be where you think that they are. I’m continually surprising myself by what I can achieve.”
–Wellington, January 2011
In our everyday experiences at home or in the workplace, we deal with certain impossibles: a teenage son who won’t listen, a boss who is difficult to please, a deadline that’s unreasonable to meet and a competitor that is challenging to beat.
But who set those limits in the first place? Can anything be done to surpass those limits? Most definitely, and it is about transcending ourselves and breaking what we perceive are our limits. Limits exist only in our minds and as Chrissie Wellington correctly points out, they may not be where we think they are.
If we can only take one more step, work one minute longer, complain two times less, make one more phone call or ask one more question, we can possibly go further and perform better that we ever imagined possible. It is only by pushing ourselves to our absolute limit, then taking one step further, that we can realize what we are capable of.
At Impact, we say that each of us has the opportunity to transcend ourselves and our previous accomplishments each and every day. Self-transcendence can take place at work, at home, in our sports and hobbies, and even in our attitudes. Set goals, and when you achieve them, set some new ones. Challenge your own limitations, and make a game of out-doing your previous accomplishments.