The power of a challenge

I recently started lifting weights with a buddy. During one of our times on the bench press recently we were doing three sets of ten and by the time I got to the start of the third set I was feeling it. That’s when my buddy looked at me and said, “ok, now do fifteen.” I didn’t think I could, but I did fifteen.

Two weeks ago on a 40-degree morning in Atlanta, another friend challenged me to run barefoot on the Atlanta Beltline. I knew it was a little crazy, but that’s par for the course for me, so I accepted the challenge. We ran for one mile barefoot, while getting some interesting looks from other runners and bikers. I had thought that we surely wouldn’t make it a mile, but we kept challenging each other, not wanting to back down, and made it easily.

I love challenges and friends that know me well enough to challenge me. Challenges like these make me push myself beyond what I would normally consider my limits. There is a story in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography about this workout routine that I found fascinating. Arnold was working on his calves and would put 300 lbs on his shoulders and do calf raises. He was sure that at 300 lbs he was pushing the limits of the human body. Then, when he went to work out with another bodybuilding friend and mentor, he found out that guy did calf raises with 1,000 lbs. The limit was in Arnold’s mind. That is why I love challenges; they force me to overcome the limits in my mind. They push me to try harder than I normally would. Challenges force me to achieve.

Today starts a new challenge. Jeff Hilimire has challenged me to write a blog post every other day for the month of November. He started on the same challenge on November 1st, and I am starting November 2nd. This challenge will help me to create a better habit of daily writing and deeper thinking.