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This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, LawSikho.

I thought it is impossible for me to do a 5 mins plank.

Ramit Sethi once announced a challenge on his blog. Either do a 5 minutes plank or do 1000 push-ups.

In my experience, I could not even do a 1-minute plank, so I did not even try. That one looked impossible. I and my 2 cofounders that time attempted to do 1000 push-ups. I did 500 in one hour thirty minutes and gave up.

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But I saw that 1000 was not impossible. If I just kept doing one at a time, with some break of 10-15 seconds, I could keep going and finished all 1000.

But what kind of person can do a 5 minute plank without a break?

These days I can do 2 minutes planks. 5 minutes still seem impossible and unreachable. 

But then I just read this, and was blown out of my mind:

What’s the world record for a plank? 4 hours. 

Damn. Who could imagine?

Here is what I took away from that:

  1. I do not know enough about how to do a plank. My body is capable of doing much more if I find out how to train it. It is impossible for me because I do not understand how to do it.
  2. People around me are a really terrible source of information regarding how to do a plank for longer. They are all as bad as me. If I have to do a plank for 10 mins or 15 mins, I should seek out a better source of information and educate myself about it first rather than just trying it out on the yoga mat. 
  3. 5 minutes plank sounded like a huge milestone, a very difficult target. But once I heard that someone did 4 hours, suddenly 5 minutes sounds like very achievable target for me. It is important to be exposed to real champions, and not judge myself by standards of ordinary people. 
  4. Impossible is just a horizon, which can expand. A shred of evidence against what is impossible today instantly changes how far into the distance I can see. 
  5. If my physical ability can be that elastic, which has far more definite biological restrictions, what I can do with my mind must be way much more powerful. Our body, as well as our brains, are very powerful machines which we have not fully explored, and we do not even understand how powerful these machines are.

I thought I can never run a half marathon.

When I ran 1 km for the first time, I felt like my chest will burst. I was panting. I walked back and thought ‘wow I ran so much, incredible’. I felt very proud. Whenever I went running, I ran for only 1 km and felt great about myself.

Then one day I was going for a run and our football captain Davis was also going out for a run by chance. So I went along with him. After running 1 km I said I am done. Davis looked at me like I am crazy and said what, that’s all? Let’s run till at least Korunamoyee. And then I ran for 5 km for the first time. I could not believe that I could do so. But I did it. Apparently, my body could do it, but my mind was not ready to believe it. Above  

I still had to run because I didn’t want to admit that Davis could do something that I could not. If he can, I must be able to do it too!

That’s how our brains work. That is why it helps a lot to hang out with people who have already reached where you want to reach. 

Then one day some of the runners from our campus went running for 10 km. I went along. I managed to run that distance. Then one day I even ran a half marathon. Crazy, right?

Turns out I just had to believe I can and try it out. And I did it when I had the company of people who believed they can do it too.

Why did I learn that 1 km running was enough? That’s because my dad always said so – go run 1 km as if it was a big deal to run 1 km. My dad never ran or did any physical work out except some freehand stretching very irregularly, so I thought running 1 km is the limit. It was a big deal to run so much!

It was a self-imposed mental limit. 

You can help others to remove their limits too. I was traveling with my colleague Mayur in November for about a week. We were staying in the same room, and he suggested one night that when we wake up, we must exercise. 

So in the morning, I told him that we will do a quick work out – just 100 burpees.

He agreed. Perhaps he had no idea about how easy or difficult it is to do 100 burpees. I can do 200 easily. 

After doing 10, Mayur said he can’t go on. I would have none of it. I kept pushing him, encouraging him and didn’t allow him to sit down. I would do one and then ask him to do one. 

We managed to do 100 each. For the next few days, he told his friends and family that he did 100 burpees, and everyone found it unbelievable. Even he himself could not believe that he could push himself that much because he wanted to give up so many times in between.

But that work-out set a new standard for Mayur in his life. Such experiences are transformative. When you cross the limit once and go far beyond what you thought you were capable of, your standards are forever changed. 

We take the same approach in our courses to teach practical aspects of the law. Set high standards, push boundaries, and show you what is possible. Give you a community of people who have done it before and working on it again. That changes everything.

Many of you think you can’t build your own practice, find your own clients, or get the jobs of your dreams in quite the same way.

All you need are other people who have done it to show you how to do it, how to train for it, and for you to believe that you must give this a try.

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