Overestimating Ability (bar hanging)

It was one of the highlights of the local calendar last weekend as the Thame fair rolled into town.

As I was walking through the usual array of dubiously constructed and over priced rides on my way home, I noticed there was a stall offering to pay out 10x the value of your stake if you could do one simple thing:

Hang on a bar for 2 minutes.

Cough up a fiver, hang there for 2 minutes and walk away with 50 quid.

Now, I’m not amazing at pull ups and grip strength, but I was more than confident that I could easily complete the ‘Tarzan Challenge’ and hang on a bar for 2 minutes.

I went home and got ready to morph into Embarrassing Dad later on that afternoon.

A few hours later I was back at Tarzan, with child #1 wielding my iPhone ready to video my triumphant victory.

I gave the guy my cash, hopped up to the steps, took a hold and the timer began.

2 minutes isn’t very long time. 

When you’re socialising with friends, watching a movie, or playing with the kids, 2 minutes goes very quickly.

But when you’re hanging from a bar it’s a loooooooong time.

Especially when you suddenly realise that the bar is free to rotate, which puts a whole new dimension on the challenge and quickly wipes any hint of smugness from your face.

After 30 seconds I was doing ok.

45 seconds and I could feel the first hint of tension in my forearms.

A minute in and things were starting to hurt.

1:10 and my fingers began to uncurl uncontrollably.

1:12 and I dropped inelegantly from the bar, presumably just another in a long line of idiots who thought  they knew what the challenge entailed.

Here’s the film of my failed attempt:

There was talk that the bar was being surreptitiously remotely twisted by the man on the stand, putting additional pressure on those straining forearm muscles.

But in reality I think that it was just bloody hard work and I underestimated it (or overestimated me!)

Being over confident of your ability and then getting caught out isn’t something I recommend making a habit of.

I could have done more research on the Tarzan bar.  I could have done more training.  I could have spoken to those who had successfully hung there for 2 minutes to discover their tactics.

But given that this was just a kids fair none of that seemed appropriate!

On the opposite end of the spectrum is UNDERestimating your abilities and then NOT pursuing your dreams and goals.

Give me the option and I’ll choose failure every time over not trying something.

T.S. Eliot once said that the only way to discover your limits is to risk going too far. 

Of course you have to consider the consequences of failure but they’re rarely as dire as we think they might be.

This November at my motivAction Seminar in Oxford I’ll be teaching how to reframe and bounce back from failure (more serious failures than just dropping from a bar!), and how to raise your perception of where your limits lie.

If you want to spend a day working on yourSELF, head over here for more info and book yourself a seat.

Have a great day,

George ‘Grippy’ Anderson

P.S. A client ‘made me do’ a 2000m indoor row in our session on Monday.  Hands down it was the single most unpleasant exercise experience I have ever had.

I was seeing double before the half way point and physically couldn’t stand up for 10 minutes after I collapsed at the end.

Did I enjoy it? Not for a second. 

Am I glad I did it?  Absolutely.

I’ll tell you why on Friday.