You can't read much about fitness without encountering the suggestion of exercising to failure. I was reminded of this concept recently by a New York fitness trainer I follow on Twitter. For some reason something clicked when I heard it this time. I decided to take George's advice. At the end of my workout, I selected one tough exercise to perform to failure... put everything I had into it... until I failed.
That day it was jump squats. By the time I reached fifty my legs were overcooked noodles. The next attempt to jump ended with me flat on the mat in a limp sprawl, breathing hard. Smiling. It felt good. I took a few minutes to regroup before I climbed back upstairs. When I flipped the light out I knew I had given it all I had. The best part? In a couple of days, my all was 20% more plus another move to failure.
One morning in those breathless moments awaiting the stamina to get up and move on, I thought about this goal of failure. Was I applying it to the other priorities in my life? What if I pushed beyond distractions, beyond discomfort, beyond disbelief? What if I left it all on the mat? What could I accomplish if I wrestled through my highest priority challenges until I was completely wrung out... yet fulfilled?
What if I don't? What if I walk away from the most important people and things in my life without giving them all I have... today? What have I missed? What have they missed?
Just as we can't apply the failure approach to every set in our workout, we also can't apply it to every life objective. We'll be used up before the morning is underway. This is where it is so crucial to clearly identify our top priorities. Where do we empty ourselves... depositing our resources for future gain? If you are a parent, like me, one of those priorities is our children. The return on investment is priceless.
I had the privilege once upon a time of working for a Wall Street firm. I was mesmerized the day I moved through the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with one of our traders... wordless deals making and breaking corporate portfolios and retirement dreams. I took away so many life lessons from that chapter of my life. Have you ever demonstrated the principle of compounding to someone and watched the realization dawn on their face? So, take that initial 20% gain for example. What if I was able to sustain that kind of increase just weekly for a month? My "all" would have doubled. Doubled.
What top priority in your life could use a double dose of your all?
When I watch the sun go down and close the door on the day, I want to be worn out... and satisfied. I want to know that I gave everything I had to give to my top priorities... and as a result, with the rising sun, my all will be more than it was today.