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Posted on January 10, 2017

One of my favorite disciplines is physical fitness. It’s energizing. it’s stress-busting. It’s fun. Over the years I have cycled between weight lifting, running and triathlon. For the past 2+ years it’s been Crossfit. I enjoy the technical nature of the olympic weight lifting in combination with intense cardio work.

Do I get injured from time to time? Absolutely! Just as much as I did participating in every other type of fitness I listed above. The injuries I have experienced are not a result of the workouts themselves, but rather because I sometimes perform the workouts with improper form. I might get sloppy with the movement, push too hard or meet a functional limitation I have yet to overcome.

General consensus may be that if it hurts, avoid it. I disagree. I say keep doing what it takes until you can do it without it hurting anymore. Then, find something else that could potentially hurt you. Why, because growth stops when we lose the tension between where we are and where we could be. John Maxwell calls it the Law of the Rubber Band.

Unfortunately, some people try to avoid altogether the tension that might cause them pain – physically, professionally or personally. They end up settling for less. They certainly don’t reach their potential.

What’s the alternative? Lean into your limitations and trust that everything worthwhile is uphill.

It is a well known fact that professional athletes at the top of their game play with injuries – especially those who sustain success over time.

In the gym, I (not at a professional athlete reference!) am currently working hard to overcome a dysfunctional muscle movement pattern that frequently causes me tightness and pain. It’s plagued me for months and the easiest thing to do is avoid the movements that are highlighting the problem.

My other option is to put in the work of overcoming my limitation. I can watch videos on proper form, ask a coach to observe me and help me improve, invest in a sports massage specialist who helps me understand the way muscle groups work (and makes them feel a lot better!) and continue to improve slowly over time. And yes, occasionally it means getting up at 4AM to put ice on a muscle that is keeping me from sleeping. At least that one gives me the opportunity to think about a blog like this one. I continue to make progress.

I see the same principles hold true in my executive coaching practice. High-functioning C-Suite leaders, business owners and high-potential emerging leaders all possess within them the capabilities they need to fulfill their mission with excellence and fulfillment.

Nonetheless, many achieve a level of success and then get comfortable with “good enough,” eventually get sidelined by their limitations or live with an unsustainable level of stress, anxiety or exhaustion.

Wherever you are in your leadership journey, if you choose to keep the rubber band stretched, you need an objective coach to look into your world (because you can’t see the picture if you are in the frame), ask the right questions, help identify limiting thinking and behavior patterns and encourage you along the way.

What are the limitations and barriers holding you back from reaching your potential in key areas of your life? Are you avoiding them or leaning in with a willingness to work through your “injuries”? If you are leaning in, who is helping you work through the discomfort of your stress, anxiety and exhaustion? If all is well, what are you going do to stretch your rubber band? Nobody reaches their ultimate potential by doing it alone!

-Bob Willumsen

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