This one’s really hard to explain because it’s almost more of a “gut” thing than anything else. But at the same time I believe it’s a critical component to reaching your potential. Not only that, but to getting to that “elite” status in whatever field you might be in. So instead of explaining it where it’s just really hard to visualize, there’s a movie scene that I want to share with you that will help. It’s not even a quality movie but honestly I just couldn’t think of another movie scene that exemplifies “letting it go” more than this one.
OK, if you haven’t seen the movie “Kickboxer” that’s OK. It’s a Jean Claude Van Damme classic. In this movie Van Damme plays Kurt Sloane, brother to Eric Sloane. Eric was an American kickboxing champion who decided to go to Thailand to test his skills against the best. He fights a brutal enemy by the name of Tong Po. Po destroys Eric, so much so that Eric becomes paralyzed. Eric’s brother Kurt wants revenge on Tong Po so he seeks out the best martial arts guy in all of Thailand by the name of Xian.
Xian agrees to train Kurt but warns him to do everything he is told. Kurt has no idea what’s in store for him. In the scene above Xian is having Kurt train by kicking a tree. Up until this point Xian has been almost “easy” on Kurt. He hasn’t really pushed Kurt to the point where his kickboxing skills will be maximized. You see Kurt kicking the tree but with pain. Xian then says “kick the tree” to which Kurt says, “what, do you want me to break my leg?” Xian says, “your brother, remember?” At that point a switch goes off in Kurt’s head and he’s bashing the tree one kick after the other not even realized the damage he’s doing or the pain he’ll be in. The tree eventually falls over. When it does, Kurt “comes to,” falls to the ground in agonizing pain. Check out the scene below:
The stuff you didn’t know you had
Whether a person helps bring that out of you or a switch just “flips,” there’s another level out there for all of us. It’s a level we didn’t realize we had. It’s a level we’re actually afraid to get to. I’m not telling all of you to go kick a tree until your leg bleeds and you fall to the ground. But I am saying we’re all capable of a hell of a lot more when we “let go.” Ever work with a personal trainer? The common denominator with working with a personal trainer is doing things you never thought you could do before. You’re doing exercises you never dreamed of. You’re doing extra reps that you never know you had in you. That’s what I call “letting go.” And it’s not just in a physical way. It certain can be on the physical side but it’s also emotional. So how do you get to that point? How do you “let go?”
Like building habits in your life, “letting go” is about starting small. If you have a fear of heights it’s not as if you’re going to sign up for skydiving tomorrow. But what if you do in fact have a fear of heights and you do in fact wish to go skydiving? Does that mean you should simply give up and never try skydiving? Hell no. It means that you’ve got to figure out a way to get from where you are to being in that plane and actually jumping out. For some that could take weeks and for others it could take years. That however, isn’t the important part. The important part is that it gets done and that it gets done on your terms, and no one else’s.
Some say you might begin by standing on top of a chair. If that doesn’t phase you, stand on a chair for longer and longer amounts of time. What’s the next step? Jump off the chair. Did that freak you out? No? Good. Keep doing that for a little while. Then what? What do you think? Pick something higher up. Repeat the process. Can you get to the point where you’re happy riding the Ferris wheel? Can you go to the top of a skyscraper and look down without feeling nauseous? Every time you take a step back, that’s OK. Go back down a level until you’re not afraid anymore. Keep moving up levels, no matter how long it takes, until you finally think you just might be able to get on that plane and jump out. And you know what? It might not even work. That’s right, it might not. So what? Even if you don’t jump out of the plane you still went from being nervous about standing on a chair to riding the Ferris wheel or however far you went.
You cannot lose
And that’s the greater point here isn’t it? You found that even after all that trying that you still didn’t bring yourself to skydive. Yeah? And? You just put yourself through an amazing exercise. One that could benefit you for the rest of your life. The lesson here isn’t that you didn’t bring yourself to skydive. The lesson is in all the steps you took to try. The lesson is in all the new skills you acquired. These are the critical lessons we need in all walks of life: in business, sports, relationships, you name it. Trying and failing is way better than not having done it at all. And the reality is that you sure as hell didn’t fail. It’s quite the contrary. You grew. You grew to a greater place from where you started and it’s that growth that propels you to move forward and to grow even more.
Rinse and Repeat
Gradually the more you do this stuff the more confident you become when it comes to entering unknown territory. Rather than looking at something new as being scary or intimidating you being to realize that it’s something to learn from. You realize it’s completely fine to not know everything at once. That it’s completely OK to stumble for a while. That it’s actually normal to fail. These things are all just part of the process. The process itself becomes fun and the process itself is a learning experience. The game isn’t supposed to end. The game is as infinite as you want it to be.