Years ago, I was talking to a guy who had the best job in the world. He was a professional driver and for a living, his job was to take new sports cars and push them to their limits. He would drive them faster than they were meant to go, turn sharper and break harder. Basically, he was paid to be reckless on a big, spacious driving range to discover the limitations of a brand new sports car.
Can you imagine?
After looking at my desk job, then considered what a typical day looks like for him. No conversations around the water cooler. No carpel tunnel. Not even a conference room meeting forcing myself to look interested in whatever is being discussed. I mean, how does one get into a career like that? What degree do you study in college? How does that happen?
After the shock and curiosity wore off, what remained was the residue of a lesson to be learned: in order to test how good something can be, we must push it until we find it’s limits. This man’s job was to push the engine harder and faster than it was designed. Purposefully. And a team of engineers standing nearby observing, jotting down notes like mad scientists and making plans. With the vehicle’s weaknesses exposed, they then take their field notes and go back to the drawing boards to build a better product. You see, the weaknesses in the vehicle were not exposed until it was pushed past what it was designed to handle.
Think of that the next time you are given a challenge you feel is too great to handle. Ironically, the very thing that we want so desperately to reject, is exactly what we need in order to grow. Just like you can’t truly test a car on a smooth surface at a comfortable 30 miles per hour, you cannot test a human with a cushy, comfortable, routine job he could do in his sleep.
I believe it was Einstein who once said that once a mind has been expanded by a new thought, it will not return to it’s original size. I’ve also heard it said that nothing great happens within the walls of your comfort zone. I stand behind that 100%, even though I don’t always like the process. It’s not always fun to e uncomfortable. With each new job or career change I’ve taken on, with each new entrepreneurial endeavor I’ve embraced with little to no knowledge, the most rewarding part has been looking back and seeing how the process broke me down and built me back up stronger.
You may not know what you’ve gotten yourself into. You might be in an unfamiliar place, wondering, “how did I get here?” You might be over your head in a challenge so great you feel helpless and insignificant next to it. And you may even fail in the attempt.
But failure is part of the process. Just ask Edison. It’s your failure that will expose your weaknesses. And if you just keep pressing through, one step at a time, figuring it out as you go, not even knowing if you’ll make it out to the other side, one day you’ll look back and see miracles. You’ll see change, development, progress and a bigger, better, more capable-than-ever self you have become.
All because you weren’t afraid to push yourself to your limits.