What I learned from doing 1,000 pushups

I did 1,000 pushups in 107 minutes last Monday. Holy crap. How did that happen?

20X Your Potential

I joined an online event called 20X Your Potential.

It's led by Ramit Sethi and retired Navy Seal Mark Divine. It’s an online five-day “Hell Week” to help people push their limits and pursue mastery.

I didn’t know exactly what to expect from it, but I trusted Ramit and I knew something would happen for me. About 15,000 people signed up, so there was plenty of social support too.

Through the five days, which challenged me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I learned to push through limits. Some of those limits I already knew I had. Others, I discovered last week and broke through.

I came away from the experience with a few big takeaways I’d like to share. These thoughts came from my own experience as well as following the successes and struggles of other participants.

1. WHY you do something often matters more than WHAT you do.** When confronted with a huge obstacle — DO 1,000 PUSHUPS — resistance quickly forms in our minds.

“No way.”

“I can’t do that.”

“They’re just pushups. I’ve done plenty of pushups before. I don’t have anything to prove.”

A ton of people had that initial reaction to the challenge.

It’s easy to get lost in the “what,” the 1,000 pushups, instead of digging deeper into the “why.”

When you get to the "why," you realize the pushups themselves aren't the important part.

Ramit Sethi and Mark Divine

Finding out where your limits are and pushing through them matters. The pushups serve merely as a vehicle for that development. Acquiring the mental toughness and resiliency to go through the process and come out a success on the other side carries over into the rest of your life.

Finding the discipline to do pushup number 731 when your brain is screaming that you’ve already done 730 and surely it’s enough — that discipline echoes throughout your mind, body, and spirit system. How you do anything is how you do everything.

Pay attention to your “why.” Check in with it. You will face resistance. When it arises, remembering your goal allows you to keep going.

2) Your mind, body, and spirit are all connected.

20X Your Potential gave us different types of challenges. The first one was physical. The others tested our minds, emotions, and spirits. Mark Divine said that the foundation to excellence is in mastering the version of yourself that exists today and giving every part of yourself what it needs. Hell Week helped me understand what he meant.

I noticed throughout the week that the same types of emotional responses were coming up, both from myself and from other participants. How we felt about one challenge was frequently the same way we felt about another challenge, even though one involved an intense physical workout and another involved a breathing exercise while sitting still.

This connection hammered home for me the importance of taking care of all the different parts of myself and checking in with them regularly.

It made me pay greater attention to the habits I have and to notice which aspects of my mind-body-spirit those habits were affecting. Since then, I started doing some physical exercise before my mental journaling exercise. It’s made a big difference for me, as I can now sort through my thoughts more easily and clearly in those journalling sessions.

3. Focus on the current step, the one you can control in this moment.

In one of the lessons, Mark talked about a time during Navy Seal training when 1,000 burpees were demanded of him. He realized that to follow through, his best option was to focus simply on the one action he could take in that moment.

Instead of trying to do 1,000 burpees, he tried to do one burpee. That was his goal. So here’s what he said to himself.

“One burpee.”

“One burpee.”

“One burpee.”

Whether it’s a physical, emotional, or mental challenge you face, tackling the current obstacle with a powerful action is the way to succeed.

When you come back to the present moment, you relieve yourself of the distractions of the past and the future. You reorient yourself and can proceed with confidence toward your goal.

You can tackle bigger challenges than you otherwise could. Those successes breed confidence. Because of them, you can keep moving toward audacious goals and stay engaged.

You keep going, one small goal at a time.

It’s how you finish.

You can get involved at 20XYourPotential.com.