Julian said, “As to your question about where to start, I promise that I will give you a number of ancient yet powerful techniques in a few moments. But first I must share a practical illustration with you. Get into push-up position.”
‘Good grief, Julian’s become a drill sergeant,’ I silently thought. Being curious and wishing to keep my cup empty, I complied.
“Now do as many push-ups as you can possibly do. Don’t stop until you truly are certain that you cannot do any more.”
I struggled with the exercise, my 215 pound frame not being used to much more than walking to the nearest McDonald’s with my kids or meandering through a round of golf with my law partners.
The first 15 push-ups were pure agony. With the heat of that summer evening adding to my discomfort, I started to sweat profusely. However, I was determined not to show any signs of weakness and carried on until my vanity started to give way along with my arms. At 23 push-ups I gave up.
“No more, Julian. This is killing me. What are you trying to do here?”
“Are you certain that you can’t do any more?”
“I’m sure. C’mon, give me a break. The only lesson I’m going to learn from this is what to do for a heart attack.”
“Do ten more. Then you can rest,” commanded Julian.
“You’ve got to be kidding!”
But I continued. One. Two. Five. Eight. And finally ten. I lay on the floor in total exhaustion.
“I went through precisely the same experience with Yogi Raman the night he shared his special fable with me,” said Julian. “He told me that pain was a great teacher.”
“What could anyone possibly learn from an experience like this?” I asked breathlessly.
“Yogi Raman, and all of the Sages of Sivana for that matter, believed that people grow the most when they enter the Zone of the Unknown.”
“Okay. But what does that have to do with making me do all those push-ups?”
“You told me after you had done twenty-three that you couldn’t do any more. You told me that this was your absolute limit. Yet, when I challenged you to do more, you responded with another ten push-ups. You had more inside you and when you reached for your resources, you received more.
Yogi Raman explained a fundamental truth to me whilst I was his student: ‘The only limits on your life are those that you set yourself.’ When you dare to get out of your circle of comfort and explore the unknown, you start to liberate your true human potential. This is the first step towards self-mastery and mastery over every other circumstance in your life. When you push beyond your limits, just as you did in this little demonstration, you unlock mental and physical reserves that you never thought you had.”
‘Fascinating,’ I thought. Come to think of it, I had recently read in a book that the average person uses only a minute measure of his human capacity. I wondered what we could do if we started using the remaining reservoir of our abilities.
Excerpt from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma, www.robinsharma.com