Upper Limit Problems- My Life As A Swimmer Series
In Gay Hendricks’ book The Big Leap, he explains that each person possesses upper limit problems and he defines four hidden barriers within this system as:
- Feeling fundamentally flawed based on specific life circumstances
- Feeling disloyal or having a fear of abandonment
- Believing that greater success allows for a bigger burden
- The crime of outshining those around us, including our parents
When individuals are in good health and are experiencing great success in their lives, these barriers can pull them back, acting as obstacles. Individuals might create circumstances for themselves, which these barriers assist in self-sabotage.
Tiger Woods for instance, is an athlete on the brink of his game. He was dominating the world of golf while simultaneously making more money in sponsorship than any previous athlete. What did he do after achieving this status? Woods, sabotaged himself by having multiple affairs, stirring up drama and bringing himself down to earth. His choices could potentially have been sourced on some level from his father telling him he wasn’t good enough during his childhood. This assessment of his possible flaws could definitely be correlated to his current media standing. Regardless of the reason of these acts, Tiger Woods most definitely sabotaged his own success story.
My First Known Upper Limit Problem Occurrence
I grew up on the outside as a very cocky and confident child. On the inside, however, I was seriously insecure. I was never aware of this growing up and my knowledge of this deeper level was also unknown. I began swimming when I was about six years old. My father was a swim coach and he took me to the pool often, while I observed his practices at a young age. There is a film of me at about 18 months walking up to the side of the pool and grabbing the edge, as if I was going to dive right into the water before Olympians or collegiate athletes were using the grab start in competition. I took to the pool instantly, and I became fast quickly. This was a world where I could be confident. I won most of my races. I owned most of the state records at age eight, ten, and twelve. Then in the summer of 1977, I broke my first national record in the 200 meter I.M. I dropped over five seconds and was in shock. I was the fastest twelve year old in US history, possibly in the world up to that point. I had many people showering me with praise from the swimming community as well as appearing in the paper again.
I was at the top of my game and I did not turn thirteen until the end of November. I had most of the short course season ahead of me. I was a much better short course swimmer because we had more turns, which was one of my core strengths. The sky was the limit. Until one fateful day, I was in my backyard later that summer and I had thrown a ball and it bounced on the other side of our hammock. As I headed towards the ball instead, walking underneath like I had done so many times before, I decided to step ON the hammock to get the ball. WHAT? I, for the very first time in my life, stepped on the hammock. You can guess what happened next, the hammock flipped over and slammed me onto the ground. I ended up with my very first bone fracture and I was in a sling for many months- NOT training.
Accident or Self -Sabotage
Some people might conclude that this experience was just an accident. I however, do not see it that way. Jumping my Schwinn Stingray off a flimsy ramp 3-4 foot in the air and landing on my front wheel, while going over the handlebars, is an accident. Crashing on my skateboard while doing tricks, are accidental experiences. Up to this point in my life, I had never experienced a serious accident before. Yet I had chosen to step foot on the hammock that day and not walk underneath. No one made me do it, no one dared me to do it, and there was no one to blame for my encounter. I had made the choice. I did not understand this was an upper limit problem and I was self-sabotaging my path to my full potential.
This one circumstance was not a pattern. However, as I continue to share my experiences with my entire swimming career and then my entrepreneurial career, individuals will begin to see it clearly. I created each and every one of these “accidents or misfortunes.” They were all tied to my upper limit problems, holding me back from my zone of genius. I am happy to share my journey in the hopes people can catch their own upper limit problems now. Also to understand and clarify that no one is alone in these challenges.