Achieving the impossible

I hope you’ve all experienced that feeling where there was something you didn’t think you could do… And then you’ve gone and done it? If you have, it feels pretty good huh? I’m sure you’ll agree. If you haven’t, you should go and experience it. It doesn’t matter how insignificant it may be, or what sort of thing it is – it will be important to you. So, set yourself an ambitious target; one you almost don’t think you can do, and then try and do it.

Here’s two examples from the past two weeks which have made me think this;

The weekend before last I was going kayaking with a group of mates, and I was going to tackle my first Grade 3 river, with a few Grade 4 rapids. For those unfamiliar with the grading, it goes up to Grade 6, which is verging on what is actually possible – you will need a good deal of luck to survive it! Thankfully Grade 3 is safer and less intimidating than that, but when I first saw the river, it’s safe to say, it was pretty nerve-racking and I had no idea how I was actually going to make it down. I did not think I was going to be able to do it! One particular rapid I was especially anxious about was the rather formidably named ‘lower graveyard’ – that hardly suggests safe, easy paddling, does it. But, where’s the fun in that?

So, you’ve probably already guessed, but I did the river absolutely fine. No capsizes, no swims. Ironically, lower graveyard was my favourite rapid of all, so much so that we went and did it again. It was an amazing day. Every rapid we came across in the kayak followed the same sort of pattern: sitting in the eddy (water outside the river’s current, not flowing) remembering having seen the rapid from the bank, I think I can’t do this and I’m going to swim, decide to give it a go anyway, get to the bottom of the rapid safely, have a wide smile across my face, yell about how much fun and how crazy it was for a few minutes, repeat.

Another example is that I’ve been working on a farm lots recently, and to get there, it is a pretty hilly 20km cycle ride. When I rang up about the job, the farmer had told me I wouldn’t be able to cycle it, but if I thought I could he’d give me an interview. Determined to make this interview, I told him I’d cycle it. On the way out, I stopped a few times for a break, and walked with the bike up one especially steep hill. It was tough man, but I got the job, which would see me cycling this route 5-6 times a week after my lectures. The first week followed suit, although the time did improve and the breaks were less frequent. Soon after a week, I reached a position where the breaks had been cut out, as had walking up the hill. Success! This was great for three reasons;

1)      The farmer had told me I wouldn’t be able to do it.

2)      It was such a marked improvement from just one week earlier.

3)      We drove to a few fields he owns away from the farm, and it was only then, from the perspective of within a car that I realised how steep it actually was.

So go, try and have a little self-belief even where it is hard. You never know you might even amaze yourself.

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