Perhaps the greatest conspiracy in human history is the underestimation of human ability. Ironically, the vast majority of us act as co-conspirators, reinforcing the limits of what we ourselves are capable of doing. The most intriguing thing about these self-imposed limits is that they fly in the face of facts. Whoever declares a particular ability to be outside the range of human potential is almost always destined to be wrong. It's just a matter of time before someone accomplishes a feat--any feat--that had once been considered impossible.
Given the fact that the bar keeps getting raised on human potential, we are left to wonder: What limits, if any, are there on our physical and mental abilities? This week, the public radio program, Radiolab (http://www.radiolab.org), features a fascinating hour on "Limits" that attempts to address this very question. I strongly recommend this Radiolab episode, which looks at triathletes, mnemonists, long-distance bicyclists, and scientists trying to find patterns in nature with the aid of sophisticated computer programs. The show gives us some insights into the factors that make it possible for each of us to transcend our own self-imposed limits. After listening to it, please let me know what you think. I'd especially like to know of any experiences you might have had in which you pleasantly surprised yourself and went far beyond anything you thought yourself capable of doing.
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