People watching is an excellent teacher.
While working out at the YMCA, I noticed in my peripheral vision a young man preparing for his workout. He racked not one, not two, but three huge weights. Just looking at that bar made me hurt. He wasn’t very big, so I couldn’t help but watch as his activity unfolded.
He walked around the weights, appearing to psych himself up for the task ahead. Once ready, he reached down to lift. No can do. Not going to happen. Leaving them on the floor, he took a longer walk around, turned his music up, danced a bit and tried again. No can do. Another failed attempt. Now I’m hooked, silently rooting for the poor guy, but realizing somehow scientifically this mathematical equation is just not plausible. His third try, after more music and walking, attempting to muster up whatever it was going to take to lift those weights, he fails again. His body language said it all. No more walks. Sagging shoulders. He quietly unpacks the weights, puts them away, and leaves. No more pep in his step. He’s defeated, sadly by himself.
Pressure is often self imposed. While life is demanding, we push ourselves and others beyond reasonable limits. Striving for more is productive. Pushing towards our potential is necessary. However, we must accept reasonable limits on what we can and can’t do, so that we can grow into the person we can become.
It would be my bet that the guy from the Y struggled the rest of that day. That deafening voice of defeat likely paralyzed his energy, awaiting every moment to remind him, “you couldn’t then, you can’t now.” Why didn’t he just reduce the weights and try again? Because he had set his sights too high. The real defeat was present before he racked his weights. Only he couldn’t see it.
Pressure is a balancing act. We must push ourselves. We can be better today than we were yesterday. But the voice of defeat is waiting for that moment when we push beyond limits and try to leap past the growth process. Don’t listen. Be effective by being willing to grow into the person who can do what must be done.
Pressure can paralyze when you push yourself too hard. Today’s pick of the day.