The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Patching Cracks


August 14, 2019

I do about 30 chin-ups at the gym several times a week. I don’t like doing chin-ups, and I couldn’t do them for many years. I’d try and try and couldn’t quite get myself up over the bar. Then, a crazy thing happened one day: I did one. After doing one, I found that doing a second one was easier. In the space of a few weeks, I jumped from none to more than a dozen. I didn’t develop some supernatural strength or find a new training program. What changed was that I figured out that I could do chin-ups. Before I did my first one, I never believed I would ever get to the first one. Once I knew I could, they got easier. The same thing happened with running miles, swimming laps, and a ton of other things. Once I come to believe I can do something, I tend to get better quickly. This isn’t to say that training or hard work isn’t a part of improving. Still, I am learning more and more that the biggest obstacle to improving at just about anything in life is believing I can actually do it. Once I get it in my head that “I got this”, I am capable of so much more than when I assume defeat. This is a truth that applies to almost every area in life. Often, we fail to accomplish basic things in life because we don’t think we can. I know folks who complain they can’t lose weight and are convinced they’ll fail in their efforts. When faced with choices between healthy eating or junk, they often say: “I’m going to fail anyway so I might as well enjoy it.” A few years ago, I had a friend who told me they couldn’t read books all the way through. This person wound up stuck at home without television one weekend and they read a novel. Then surprise, they read another the following week. Suddenly, my friend could read a book every week. Believing it is possible made all the difference. The mental component of almost every accomplishment is often the hardest part. We can easily talk ourselves out of doing the work, making the sacrifices, or even just succeeding. Again, I’m not saying that work isn’t important. Rather, that work is often wasted because we fail to get past our own belief that we can’t succeed. Sometimes this involves just breaking down big goals into smaller ones that we believe we can do. I observed this recently while swimming laps. I hate swimming, and I am not good at it. As a result, it’s necessary to set low goals, then add a little more when I hit them. So, I start saying: I’ll swim 8 laps. Then I say: ”2 more is 10.” Then I say: “5 more minutes and then I can stop” or “ just another 100 yards.” If I do that enough times, I can manage to swim a lot farther than I thought I could when I started out. I always believe I can do “1 more round.” This truth applies to marriage, work, learning, training, eating, and just about anything else you can think of.


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