So, we’ve been exploring ‘How to Maximize your Potential’ over the past couple of posts. And every week, I try to share an idea or principle that could help us in the quest to maximize our potential. 

So far, we have looked at things that hinder us from reaching our potential – belief, laziness, comparison. We have also looked at the ego, and how it blocks us from seeing clearly. We also explored the need for change – the necessity of doing new things to get new results.

Now we examine the concept of the ‘heavy load’. If you want to grow, evolve, and reach your potential, you have to take on a heavy load – carry your cross so to speak. The heavy load is responsibility. It is also a mark of maturity and the keen difference between a child and an adult – the level of responsibility you are willing to accept. It has nothing to do with age, everything to do with disposition and mentality. 

Most people want a life of ease. A life where everything they want comes to them effortlessly. But life works in paradoxes. If you want ease, if you want freedom, you have to pay for it in blood and sweat. You cannot become great if you do not meet great resistance.

Without a heavy load, without a more-than-usual demand on our time, energy, and creativity, our talents and abilities are left untapped. In the same way our muscles atrophy from a lack of use, our potential wastes away when it is not confronted by demand. You don’t reach your potential by shrinking away from discomfort, you reach it by leaning into and embracing it. By letting it work on you, to make you a stronger, wiser, more empathetic and more capable human being. 

Many people experience this heavy load in the form of family – a new spouse, or the birth of their kids. The onloading of a new unit, of new children needing to be clothed and fed has the power to spark off a powerful response. Now you have a deeply rooted why. A why that doesn’t care about your tiredness, or sadness, or stress. They need to be taken care of no matter what. For most people, this new load sparks a level of action and thinking that produces massive results. For others, they buckle under the weight of responsibility and expectation and run away. Or they begrudgingly take on the load and grow sour, more resigned to their fate every day.

The heavy load doesn’t have to be a new baby or a new family. There are many ways to take on a heavy load. It simply means taking on more responsibility, tackling a much bigger goal than you are comfortable with, or holding yourself to a much higher standard. Look at what you want to stretch yourself in, whatever area of life you want to expand, to do so, you have to take up much more. 

Be careful though. The weight of the load has to be balanced against the level of ability you have now. Things do overwhelm people, and you don’t want to crush and break yourself right at the start of your journey. Assess where you are now, and then take on a load that forces you to operate at the edges of your ability.

Like I mentioned in my book “How to Live Intentionally”, you have to set a ginormous goal. A massive goal forces you to think differently, creatively and act boldly in the hope of getting close to achieving it. You can probably figure out getting to the next step from where you are, but to 10X, 20X, 100X your results and your life, you have to break open your thinking. The heavy load of a ginormous goal forces breakthroughs in your thinking.

Hold yourself to a higher standard. Even if you don’t take on a bigger goal, you can apply this principle in your routines and daily life. You can continue doing the same things but at higher frequency or intensity. You force a heavy load on to yourself until you adapt and grow.

It’s like going to the gym. You get in there for the first time scrawny or out of shape, wheezing after a few steps on the treadmill or reps on the bench press. But you take on a load. It might not be so heavy at first, but it is enough to cause you to strain, and you wrestle with that. A few weeks after, you take on a heavier load, because you are stronger, more conditioned, more adapted to the old level of load. On and on it goes, progressing to higher levels of strength until you are maxing out your potential, experiencing what you are truly capable of. 

Same in learning, same in learning. To go past your plateaus, to new heights of excellent performance, you have to be willing to do more and take on more. Train more, work harder, practice more deliberately.

It’s obviously not a nice or easy thing to do. But you don’t win if you don’t learn how to suffer. Taking on a heavy load is a willing acceptance of suffering for a higher purpose. Knowing that in suffering, in strain and heavy demand, we are forged and made stronger and more capable of attaining greater heights.

If you enjoyed this piece and think someone you know could benefit from it, feel free to share it with them. 

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