Discover your potential. Push yourself to the point of failure!

You will never know your true potential until you push yourself to the point of failure.

I wonder what I could have accomplished in my life if I had only tried a little harder, pushed myself a little farther.

Do you sometimes wonder what you are truly capable of achieving?

Like most people, I love to read and hear stories about people who have overcome great obstacles and adversity to do something amazing. I admire people who determined to keep trying, over and over, despite repeated failures, to create something they knew was possible if they just kept experimenting and pushing themselves a little harder. People like Thomas Edison, who never gave up in his attempts to create the light bulb, or Roger Bannister, who knew in his heart that he was capable of running a sub-four-minute mile, are sources of great inspiration to us all.

When we hear stories like these, they touch some deep place within us. They stir up a longing and a question. The longing is to do something equally impressive. The question is: “Am I good enough? Can I really do it?”

I believe we all have within us the potential to achieve so much more than we actually do. We can live our lives so much larger and add much more value to the world than we ultimately do for one simple reason: we simply do not try hard enough!

I am not saying that we do not try at all. I am saying that most of us do not try hard enough to discover and reach our true potential.

So the question is this: “How can we discover our full potential?”

The answer is: “We must push ourselves to the point of failure!”

You see, unless you push yourself to the point of failure, you do not know if you can do it.

I’ll use the example of the High Jump. The high jump is a Track and Field event in which a person attempts to jump over a bar, raised to a certain height, without knocking the bar off the stands. The bar is constantly raised to a point where no more competitors are capable of clearing it without knocking it off. The person who clears it at the highest point is the winner.

Suppose you are practicing for the High Jump. If you set the bar at a certain height and are able to clear it, that makes you feel good. You accomplished the goal of jumping that height. Now, suppose you decide to not raise it any higher because you might knock it off, which would frustrate you, or be embarrassing, or make you feel like a failure. Leaving it at a height you can comfortably jump over may keep you from failing, but you will never discover just how high you are capable of jumping. The only way to discover your true jumping potential is to continue to raise the bar higher and higher to the point of failure.

The world record for the High Jump, just for the record, is 2.45 meters (8.03 ft), set by Javier Sotomayor, of Cuba, in 1993! You can watch him do it in this video on YouTube:

In what areas of your life are you “hiding” in your comfort zone because you are afraid to fail? We all do it in various ways and at different times in our lives. Failure is painful. More painful, I think, is looking back on our lives knowing we could have been, done, and given more if we had only tried a little harder.

The world needs you to live your life to your fullest potential, but you will never know just what that potential is unless you push yourself to the point of failure! Be brave! Set the bar a little higher and jump!

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12 Responses to Discover your potential. Push yourself to the point of failure!

  1. Jim Wright September 15, 2014 at 6:58 PM #

    This is excellent, Bruce. We’ll never know all we CAN do until we reach something that we CAN’T do.

    • Bruce September 15, 2014 at 9:19 PM #

      Thank you, Jim! You’re absolutely right!

  2. Pam September 24, 2014 at 10:50 PM #

    Thanks for the nudge!

  3. Dan Erickson September 28, 2014 at 12:50 AM #

    I’m reading a book called “Rework” and the authors would disagree. The idea of failure to succeed is overrated. What if we push ourselves to the point of success?

    • Bruce September 28, 2014 at 9:14 AM #

      Dan, thanks for reading and for the comment. I’ve read “Rework” several times and love it! I actually don’t think they would disagree with me here because I’m not talking about focusing on our even learning from failures. I agree wholehearted with them that we learn so much more from our successes and, therefore, should be constantly setting ourselves up for success and celebrating our victories. That’s ultimately the point I make here. While I use the term “failure”, my emphasis is on reaching for new, higher levels of success. You never know how high you can jump if you don’t try, or if you are settling for a comfort zone of previous success.

      I appreciate the feedback!

  4. Robert Frank October 6, 2014 at 2:09 AM #

    I like it, I like your quote. We all have a little bit more. You know it is usually fear that keeps us in our comfort zones. Let’s feel the fear and do it anyway. I have an affirmation that I say: “I thrive on the feeling that fear offers.” I wrote down your quote, I really like it. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  5. Niro Thambipillay October 23, 2014 at 5:16 AM #

    Bruce, great article! I believe our points of failure are our biggest sources of learning and growth. So by not pushing ourselves to the point of failure, we keep missing out on the benefit that comes from pushing ourselves that hard.

    The other thing is when we push ourselves to the point of failure, we often end up pushing way past what we thought we could do. Often what we think we’re capable of is far less than what we’re actually capable of.

    If we don’t push ourselves to failure and keep growing, life tries to push us to grow beyond our limited beliefs of what we’re capable of. How? By providing us with adversity and challenges that we have no idea how to handle, only that we must find a way. The Universe keeps throwing bigger and bigger challenges to remind us of what we’re capable of. The Universe already knows. It is we who need reminding!

  6. Scott November 3, 2014 at 2:17 PM #

    Great write up about how we set our own mental blocks. It’s unfortunate that too many people don’t even try because of the fear of failure. If we all keep pushing past those blocks we can accomplish so much more than we can ever imagine.

  7. Taronza November 4, 2014 at 11:44 AM #

    This was awesome and I had to share with some of my friends and sisters in Christ. Thanks and I truly enjoy your work. God Bless!

  8. Firenza Cole January 12, 2015 at 11:24 AM #

    “In what areas of your life are you “hiding” in your comfort zone because you are afraid to fail?…Failure is painful. More painful, I think, is looking back on our lives knowing we could have been, done, and given more if we had only tried a little harder.”

    Thanks for writing this, Bruce! It’s so true, and I’ve always believed we should push ourselves to our very limits and make our fantasies into our realities. Though I could never express it as you’ve done. If you never try, how will you ever know what you’re capable of? It’s cutting yourself off from knowledge of who you really are. And, as you’ve pointed it, it can be a painful experience looking back and wondering what could’ve been. I try to live my life by attempting my dreams so that if I fail I can accept it and be all, ‘Well, at least I tried’ instead of ‘What if?’ or ‘I coulda been a contender.’

  9. LAWANDA ECKERT June 30, 2017 at 1:58 AM #

    Thank you for the nice post about perseverance. I just don’t have enough time or enough funding to keep pushing myself, but I understand your premise. When I look back on my life now, I can definitely see where I should have stepped up. Of course, I didn’t have the same outlook and wisdom as I do now, but I still think I was a bit aware of my mistake. This is why I like the new educational catchphrase of late “mindfulness.” I think when we ask other people the right questions we can make them more aware of the impact of their personal choices, and whether or not they are “stepping down.” I plan on using the word “mindful” with my next round of students…and I’m trying to incorporate it into my own repertoire!

  10. Robert Lafrance February 11, 2018 at 1:03 PM #

    Great article! Thank you for sharing…no one can achieve the limits of their own potentials without perseverance….

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