Today, I want to share a very powerful lesson that I only learned this year. Your future self is not your current self. What does that mean? When we are born, we are 100% pure potential. We are like a little acorn that can become a mighty oak. All life lies in front of us and we can decide what to do with it. We can choose to pursue audacious goals and realize wild dreams. We can pursue crazy projects. We can live with intent and purpose. In this process, we realize some of our potential, some of us more, others less. We never reach it fully. And when we die, we have no potential left.
Reflection 1: “How much of your potential are you currently using? What is holding you back?”
So, who is your future self? And how is it different from your current self? I believe that these are two big questions that need to settle a bit. What we can learn from professional athletes is that a strong vision of who you want to be and passion for what you are doing can fuel your energy to get really, really good at one thing.
Take Adam Ondra, who has been described by Rock & Ice Magazine as a prodigy of rock climbing and the leading rock climber in his generation. Adam has pushed the limits of what is humanly possible by being the first to climb a route with the difficulty grade 9b+ and 9c. He has climbed more than 1’500 routes of 8a and above. He also speaks five languages fluently and has a university degree in economics. Maybe you are asking yourself, how is this possible?
Adam trains for 4-5 hours a day, 6 days a week. That’s 30 hours a week or 1’500 hours a year, taking recovery breaks into account. How can he keep going on such a hard regiment? Adam reveals that passion and enjoying the process are core to his success: “But what always has to be there in the first place is passion. The only purpose of training is not just getting better and stronger. The goal should be the training itself. It can be very fun. […] Suffering throughout training sessions is possible but forgetting about the pain and climbing with all the passion you have, that is what it really takes to be a champion.“
Becoming very good at what you are trying to achieve is not limited to sports, you can learn virtually anything. Living proof of that is Tim Ferris.
Tim is the acclaimed author of the “4-hour Workweek” and set himself the challenge to become a human learning machine. He set himself the task to prove the common belief that learning anything takes a long time wrong by becoming competitive at drums, poker, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in only 5 days. I will talk more about the secret ingredients of how to make huge progress in an incredibly short time later.
Now you may be thinking: “these are superstars, geniuses, and professional athletes, that’s not me!” However, you don’t need to be any of that to change what you are currently doing and do what you desire. I am a pretty normal guy but was able to achieve a few things that others find remarkable: I have climbed the iconic route “The Nose” on El Capitan in Yosemite, finished a Ph.D. while working as a director in Europe’s leading airline group, and founded my own business. As a result, I am now not the same person anymore that I was a year ago. I am not even the same person that I was 6 months ago. We all grow over time, some more some less. I love the quote by Alain de Bottom: “Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.”
Reflection 2: How have you changed from who you were three years ago? Take your journal and write down:
- Beliefs that you held that you no longer hold
- Actions you did that you no longer do
- Goals that you had that you no longer have
- Things that you realized now that seemed impossible to you 3 years ago
What are your conclusions? How much have you changed?
I hope you gained some insights today! For me, the realization that I can change and the amount of change and how I change is up to me was very powerful. I am curious what this means to you, so please let me know.