Famed race car driver Mario Andretti once said, "If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough." Obviously, he wasn't advocating going so fast that you spin out and crash; he was talking about pushing the limits, going beyond what is safe and taking a calculated risk. In life and in business, the only way to test your limits is by opening the throttle and going forward, past the point you think you can achieve.
Sometimes pushing the limits means seeing the invisible, going after opportunities other people don't see. Jim McCann, 49, founder of 1-800-FLOWERS.com in Westbury, New York, is constantly looking for those opportunities. "I ask myself, 'When I look back five years from now, where will the really big opportunities have come from? What are the things I'm going to look at and wish I had done?' That forces you to take your best guess, with the evidence in front of you, as to how the business world is going to change-and make sure you're positioning your company to be at the edge of that change."
You don't have to be extraordinary to accomplish extraordinary things, but you do have to be willing to do whatever it takes to achieve your vision, even if it's extreme. Entrepreneur Tony Hawk-32-year-old world champion skateboarder in the X-Games and founder of Birdhouse Projects Inc., a skateboard and accessories manufacturer in Huntington Beach, California-pushes the limits in both sports and business. "No matter how far you go with skating, you've got to keep challenging yourself. Even if you're considered to be on top of your field-in business, too-there are ways you can improve yourself and keep coming up with new challenges. The goal is not to be better than everyone else; the goal is to be better than yourself."
When you're older and looking back on your life, you won't be telling stories about the times when everything came easily. You'll be talking about the things that were most challenging and therefore most exciting.
Robert Louis Stevenson once said, "To be what we are, to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life." Do you know right now what you are capable of becoming? How can you ever know, unless you're willing to put yourself to the test? The only way to become everything you are capable of becoming is by pushing the limits every single day.