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The Joy of Pushing Yourself

Jul 11, 2008
One positive thing about athletic pursuits is that they give us the opportunity to push ourselves in ways that we may not get to do otherwise. We've come a long way since the days when our ancestors lived in caves and tried to stay one step ahead of the saber toothed cats and other animals that would have loved to make a meal of Early Man.

However, we still feel that "fight or flight" reflex, but more often that not, it's a response to the stress of being part of the urban jungle that so many of us call home. Something happens that is unexpected or unpleasant (and sometimes the thought of something unpleasant happening is enough to trigger this response), and our bodies prepare to either make a stand or run. But we don't really do either and this response seems to be wasted in the situation.

When we get involved in a team sport, it's a different story. We get to challenge ourselves to do well and not let the team down. We also get an opportunity to measure our abilities against the players on the other team.

No matter what kind of team sport you are participating in, the energy that happens when the players are in sync and performing well has a kind of magical quality to it. If it's there, everyone will feel it and if the team is having an off day, then they won't be able to fake it.

There is a beauty to seeing the ebb and flow of a basketball, soccer, or hockey game when all the players are performing well together that the spectators appreciate. The athletes themselves get a rush from the fact that they are pushing themselves to achieve the goal of putting the ball or the puck in the net. Just think of the energy in a game when players guard and approach a basketball hoop with life or death intensity. When they are successful, they get an extra boost that spurs them on to work toward repeating the task.

How many activities can you name that give you the chance to challenge yourself in this way? The truth is that we don't know what we are capable of unless and until we decide to push ourselves out of our own comfort zone. If you start playing the sport of your choice and your team doesn't score on the first pass, then you and your teammates push yourselves to try it again.

Now imagine what you could achieve if you took that grit and determination and quest for the joy of pushing yourself and used it in other parts of your life. How would it affect your performance at work? Can you see yourself pushing yourself just a little more to be that much better in whatever your job entails?

The truth is that it takes real courage to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, especially if you are doing it on your own. The effort is worth it, whether you are on the rink, basketball court, soccer field, relationships or on the job. Try it. You'll surprise yourself with what you can achieve.
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