Perhaps you’ve seen the 2011 film ‘Limitless’ in which Bradley Cooper’s character ‘Eddie Morra’ is introduced to a mysterious pill that enables him to access 100 percent of his brain’s potential. As a result he is transformed from a struggling writer into a financial wizard, and just as you’d imagine, his life spirals out of control in very short order!
The question the movie raises, however, is a fascinating one. What exactly are we capable of? Do we, as humans have certain limitations that we can’t possibly go beyond? When we compare the achievements of world-class athletes over the decades, it’s apparent that excellence has accelerated exponentially.
Every time the Olympic Games come around, records are routinely broken. Hundredths of seconds are shaved off previous records that were thought to be unbeatable. So what’s going on here? Is it really all in the mind? Well, the short answer is undoubtedly yes!
Up until 1954 the mile had always taken longer than four minutes to run. Ever since records had been kept, no one had run the mile inside of 4 minutes. It was an accepted fact that humans did have their limitations and perhaps the four-minute mile was one of them.
And then, on 6th May 1954 an Englishman by the name of Roger Bannister did the impossible and ran the mile in three minutes and 59.4 seconds. Bannister had shown that what was previously thought to be impossible was in fact possible. By achieving this feat, he was in effect giving others permission to run the mile inside of four minutes. The result of this was that Bannister’s record lasted just 46 days proving that the only barrier to the four minute mile was a mental one!
In actuality, it seems that we’ve set the bar far too low for the athletic feats that the human body is capable of. Again and again, as they push themselves further and further, our top athletes demonstrate to us their belief that there are no limits at all. They push themselves on and on…and so they become better, faster, stronger…until science itself has had to be re-written.
Some researchers have suggested that there are limits. And by calculating maximum power output, oxygen use, heart function, and other factors, some have attempted to predict what the absolute limits of human performance will be. Hotly-debated estimates have suggested that a marathon will hit a ceiling of 1 hour 58 minutes (a five-minute improvement over the current men’s record), and that the maximum time for the men’s 100m will peak at 9.49 seconds. Will science once again be proven wrong? We’ll have to wait and see.
One thing we can probably all agree upon is that each and every one of us has untold potential according to our individual aptitudes and skills. We might also agree that the majority of us tend to fall far short of achieving our own unique brand of ‘olympic potential’ that we strongly suspect we’re capable of.
Throughout our ‘training’, each and every one of us encounters hurdles, setbacks, disappointments, and missed opportunities. As a part of the human family, we’re not alone in encountering these types of challenges. In fact, the majority of us experience more of a sense of ‘limitation’ than ‘limitless’ throughout the course of our lives. Well, it just might be that our Olympian friends could have something to teach us.
What if we were to begin by dismissing all self-sabotaging beliefs, and replacing our negative thinking patterns with positive ones? And what if we chose to face each day with an unwavering belief in our own brand of limitless potential? And to keep our eyes firmly fixed upon our goal? Could we be brave enough to see each failure as an opportunity for learning, and therefore for personal growth? Or could we make a practice of being our own best coach? Are we willing to ‘think big’, resist the fear, and take on the challenge…pushing ourselves to the next level in our human experience?
Just think of the possibilities for your life. They’re nothing short of limitless!