Practice The Impossible and Watch What Happens

Firefighters train night and day to enter burning buildings. Police officers shoot hundreds of rounds at firing ranges to make sure they are ready when crisis happens. Special operators around the country train for hostage rescue situations, playing out over and over again the remotest possibility of an adversary capturing one of our own.

You might think: Yes, that’s their job. They get paid to do that. I take my job seriously too.

But what about life? Do you take that as seriously? Do you prepare for what might be coming up ahead? Consider the old stoic adage from Marcus Aurelius: “Practice even what seems impossible.” What he was getting at, and what people in these high-intensity jobs understand, is that timing, muscle memory, instinct can all be shaped by practice. You can learn to keep fear at bay; you can learn what your body will and won’t do under stress.

This isn’t just a principle for Army Rangers and smoke jumpers though. It applies to all of us. What are we afraid of that we can train for? What have we done that we can do better? Or: What don’t we think we could do that a little training might bring closer to hand?

Think of practice as immunity: Immunity to fear; immunity to weakness; immunity to your own sense of doubt and hesitation. Practice even what you think you can’t do, and you might find that you have more capacity than you considered possible.