The amazing thing about growing up in New York City is that you are left feeling like your world has unlimited resources. Until you grow up and life starts to build around you.
Here’s a little thought exercise: try to think of 2 or 3 obstacles that you recognize as being generated from within you, as hurdles you put on yourself for yourself, and which make your long, middle, and even short-term goals seem ever more distant. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could start this new year of healing and growth without having to worry about them?
If you’re frantically trying to eliminate these impediments to your success completely, I’ve got some bad news for all of you: we all have our limitations, and there’s no magical recipe to making them disappear. Our bodies, minds, and souls have a breaking point, whether we admit it or not. We can even be slaves to our own warped perceptions and destructive but entrenched habits.
I have been there, done that, and have the t-shirt to support it. I grew up in NYC and it felt like the center of the world. I joined the Marines, and proudly served my country. I got out of my comfort zone and took advantage of amazing job opportunities that pushed me to learn and develop my own entrepreneurial vision. I became a father and a family man, probably the most important journey I’ve embarked on in my life. And yet I felt I wasn’t doing enough, a phrase I don’t mean in the Press Forward-y way that I may use when I know someone has untapped potential and strength. I wasn’t doing enough because I felt limited, constrained, chained: I wasn’t doing enough because I couldn’t. I was a slave to my limits.
Today, I can assure you I’ve grown. My embodiment work has helped me do the work I had to do, arrive at the place I had to arrive, brace myself, and face head-on my own limits. This is a work in progress, mind you, and it will be for the rest of my life. But I am empowered to better myself. One of the most important fights in this personal development process is knowing just what to do about our limits, hacking them, reducing them, and, eventually and hopefully, breaking through them.
In ancient Greek myth, Theseus goes into the labyrinth to slay the Minotaur, a monstrous half-human half-bull creature that yearly takes the lives of 7 young women and seven young men from Athens. Theseus enters the labyrinth with only a sword and a ball of red thread with which to find his way out of the maze should he be successful in his quest. Theseus's journey into the serpentine dungeon and the slaying of the beast is similar to our own inner processes of self-discovery and self-development. We all hope to come out victorious, and the key to victory is in the tools we decide to carry on our backs.
There are two important factors to consider first:
1 Ignorance is defeat, not bliss
Nobody can become more than what they are if they don’t know in what department they’re lacking. Every one of us carries a backpack–a metaphorical backpack–with everything we’ve ever learned, wanted, suffered, loved, disdained. The pack is full of tools, but also of the obstacles that have weighed us down during our lives. It’s time to unpack the pack and dig into the weight on our shoulders. While yes, sometimes we feel drawn to fake it to make it, denial of what we are HELPS NO ONE, especially not ourselves. You’ve got to know yourself: your strengths and limitations, so you know when it’s time to be the charging bull in the china shop and when it’s time to be the agile but equally fatal matador.
2 You are not defined by what you can’t do, but by what you can
The process of digging into our inner depths can be taxing for our mental and spiritual health. Knowledge is power (cliche but true) but we have to be careful to avoid getting caught up in our own BS. Self-discovery can be dangerous when it’s unguided or reckless. For everything we undoubtedly can’t do, there’s 3, 5, 10, 100 we can. Fear and failure are not just valid, but healthy–it’s staying down and not trying what we can’t tolerate. We have to press forward with what we have.
Breaking through to the other side
After you know what’s limiting and holding you back, it is possible doing the internal work that’s needed to fight its hold on you. It’s not going to be easy at all, but the tools are available to everyone, we just need to know where to look for them.
I can always recommend introspection, meditation, yoga, and intense outdoor activities that demand everything our bodies can give. For the last couple of years, I’ve also utilized the Wim Hof method–a combination of breathing techniques, cold therapy (increasing exposure of oneself to extreme cold), and meditation. The idea is to push yourself, getting raw physically, mentally, and spiritually. Crash against our limits and boundaries, and then push a little more, and then find out next time we can withstand more than yesterday.
Community is also essential. Knowing of other men that are also struggling against their own obstacles can fill us all with determination. That’s one of the objectives of my Men’s Circles: building camaraderie that impulses us all to betterment.
To become stronger. Faster. Kinder. Smarter. Unstoppable.
Neal Conlon is an entrepreneur with a focus on growth hacking, leveraging data, and purposely inspiring others to not let the obstacles in a rapidly changing world of tech limit their opportunities. In the last few years, he has pivoted his focus to learning how he can share his years of self-development to empower others to get better, quicker, faster, and to master themselves and the skills to be successful.