You Don’t Know Where Your Limits Are Until You Exceed Them

This is my favorite racing quote. I’m not sure where it came from, but I’ll attribute it to Garry McCoy because I like him.

When I was racing, I took this to mean that I should crash liberally. And I did. And I learned a lot about the limits of traction.

Over the weekend, Martin Casado of Nicira gave an interesting talk to prospective startup founders. He told of a point in time when he was sitting in a meeting, hadn’t slept in 3 days, his face was going numb and twitching, and he was convinced that he was going to die.

He didn’t die, of course. Maybe he learned that staying awake for 3 days was not yet his limit.

Most people never find out what they’re capable of because they never exceed what they see as their limits. Why would they? Limits are uncomfortable.

There’s something about starting a company that forces us to exceed our limits. There’s always not enough manpower, not enough time, not enough money. When the only other option is to watch everything we worked for shrivel up and die, we push.

Need to learn Objective-C in a week? Crank out an app in five days? Remain fully functional for the 40th hour? 100% of humans are wrong about their limits. Limits are so much farther than we think.

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