Most days I get up at 5:30am and go to a gym that is about 10min from my house for a class at 6:00am. The format of the gym alternates between HIIT cardio days and weightlifting days. It is an intense workout no matter what and I am semi-convinced the gym owner’s true goal is to try and kill us. But, I digress…

I have never been a huge fan of the weight lifting days but lately they have started growing on me. Then, last week during class, I learned a something that made me have a complete shift.

In class, we do a small set of reps of the exercise (like 8 barbell squats) as a warm up. The goal is to test the weight you should be doing for the “real” reps that come next. What I was doing (and doing wrong), was that after the warm-up I was not putting enough weight on my bar. I would add some weight, do another set of reps and if I needed more weight I would add to it.

What I learned is that you should put up the heaviest weight you can handle first because that is when you muscles are most fresh. It is better to push yourself and fail at a heavy weight then get thru all the reps without failing. Huh. 

When I switched and started doing heaviest weight first, I was A-MAZED at how much I could actually lift! So why this story? I think it is a reflection of life.

Think about how many times we don’t really push ourselves to the point of failure. Yes, you can “finish” if you lift a lower weight but do you really create your maximum potential? Do you really find out what you “could” do if you pushed yourself and if you loaded up and maxed out your weight? And how much extra time does it take to get results because you are only willing to do small incremental steps rather than just going for it?

Our fear of failure and our fear of even trying the heavy weights [of life] prevents us from reaching true self-actualization. This type of playing small happens in all aspects of our life – our job, our relationships, our health.

Like, when you don’t take on a big project because it is too visible.

Or, not applying for a new job/promotion because we are not “ready.”

Maybe it is not putting the effort needed to improve communication with your team.

Or, you don’t want to give a presentation because you are afraid of speaking in front of groups.

Maybe it’s not asking for a raise or not taking the steps to leaving the job you know is making your miserable and forging a new path with something that is truly satisfying.

So quit playing small and load up! Flex those muscles (literally and figuratively) and see what you are REALLY capable of – you are stronger than you think.