In junior high track, our coach, Miss Gleason, taught us about the Fosbury Flop. I still remember (and it's been a really long time) how impressed I was by this story.
It wasn't so much the innovation that affected me, it was the fact that Dick Fosbury was willing to ignore the conventional wisdom — that the high jump was as high as it could go — and push forward, thinking outside the box (or bar), spending his time and energy, to look for something that might never materialize.
My response to Roger Bannister finally breaking the “unbreakable” four-minute mile is similar. In spite of the popular opinion, he pushed for a new standard.
The very idea that I could really do much better, achieve much more, move higher and farther is actually frightening to me. But not in the way you might think. What unnerves me is the idea that I might spend my resources chasing a dream that is beyond my reach.
I've spent years trying to lose the baby weight. And it has resulted in a great big pile of nothing. It's very discouraging to work so hard and invest so much only to end up right where you started. Why bother?
But the more I think about “raising the bar” — about testing my limits and potential — the more it makes sense that the very act of testing — even if it's ultimately unsuccessful in the immediate goal — makes me a stronger, more powerful person who is more aware of how my actions impact my life. If I exercise great self-discipline (as I have) to eat healthy food and work out and I do not succeed in losing the weight, I have still nourished my body, exercised my muscles, and increased my level of self-mastery. All of these will be a net positive in my life.
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