12 Jun Passion, persistence and challenging yourselfwhy do some people need to surpass their limits to feel alive?
At over 52 years old, I had the chance to make a final flight in a Swiss army military plane, the legendary Mirage III, a flight that pushed the limits of the plane’s abilities: 6.8g of acceleration, very high altitude, flips, chases, etc. Nothing comparable with the summit of Everest, but it took me more than two years to get back into top shape and reach the mandatory weight limit to be allowed to sit on the ejection seat.
I’ve had lots of time to think about this personal goal and the reasons that push my peers to move mountains.
Surpassing yourself is a competition in which your only opponent is yourself.
Surpassing yourself consists in deploying mental forces that allow you to push beyond your physical, cultural or educational limits; it is a competition in which your only opponent is yourself. Success in this competition requires no loser and thus is not achieved to the detriment of another.
That means surpassing yourself is an exploration of possibilities and achievements beyond what seems possible and attainable, beyond the limits of the conceivable. Who sets those limits? There are two obvious answers: the body and the mind. According to South African professor and nutritionist Tim Noakes, the brain is responsible for regulating effort, which is to say that it determines and adapts the amount of muscle recruited according to the effort required, and manages this effort so as not to break physiological stability. Studies show that it is never the entire muscle that is used, but only between 35 to 50% of it. This means that the brain, or the mind, does not exploit the body’s full potential. Therefore, it is crucial to become aware of the importance of psychological training.
Surpassing yourself is a value that should be taught, because it is a vehicle of improvement and progress for the individual and of development for society.
Strengthening the mental faculties allows us to change our point of view on physical as well as psychological obstacles in sports as well in as our personal and professional lives. Above all, it is a human adventure, a road to better self-knowledge. The more we try to push our limits and gain an effective mental outlook, the more we desire to understand and reflect on our inner workings. This self-exploration leads to a reaffirmation and redefinition of the self. It is therefore a question of gaining confidence and self-esteem. Performance and the desire for performance are accompanied by a change in daily life, involving better self-care and a healthier diet and lifestyle. This often has the consequence of weight loss, but it also leads to a feeling of control over the body and the environment, the growth of critical thinking skills (reflection on one’s own workings) and a better control of emotions in order to use them effectively and manage unwanted thoughts, stress and other negative elements.
Thus defined, surpassing oneself is a value that should be taught, because it is a vehicle of improvement and progress for the individual and of development for society.
Our civilizations and our economies would have much to gain if we all pushed against our limits. On a smaller scale, everyone agrees that a team able to collectively surpass themselves to attain an ambitious goal will necessarily be successful. This is what we call team spirit, and it always comes out in difficult moments.
Because even if surpassing oneself is a personal act in itself, it can only be achieved with the support of one’s environment enabling a positive and empowered mental attitude.
To conclude, I invite you very sincerely to have a life experience based on surpassing yourself. Opportunities to do so abound today, and athletic challenges are not lacking. I often come across individuals who have already had this type of experience. They can all confirm that this type of learning changes you profoundly and continually incites you to surpass your limits to give meaning to your life.