John Gill climbing V-hard in the mid 1970s. Photo courtesy of John Gill.

John Gill climbing V-hard in the mid 1970s. Photo courtesy of John Gill.

Achieving the next grade or doing the “impossible” is ultimately more of a mental battle than a physical one. Consider Todd Skinner and Paul Piana’s free climb on El Capitan in 1988 (when four-day aid ascents were the norm). Other exceptional achievements of the time include Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler’s 1978 ascent of Mount Everest without oxygen, John Gill bouldering V9/5.13 in 1959 (when the hardest climbing moves on a rope were at best 5.10), Adam Ondra opening up two new climbing grades within five years of each other (5.15c and 5.15d), and even Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute-mile barrier in running.

All of these once ‘impossible’ achievements came to fruition through indomitable willpower, unleashed imagination, and sheer mental fortitude. These are the X-Factors that separate the best from the rest and help shatter a prevailing belief system.

Your potential to create and achieve things, big or small, is a function of your imagination and willpower as well. The ability to unleash your imagination and tap into your willpower determines your potential much more than genetics, age, financial resources, or circumstances do.

Lynn Hill states: “you have to be strong to accomplish what you imagine, but you have to imagine it first before you can accomplish it physically.”

The individuals named above were all “common” folks who achieved uncommonly great things. They dared to imagine audacious goals, developed novel ways of thinking and acting, and persevered through adversity and criticism with willpower and belief.

In this way, you too can learn to leverage your mental powers, step out of the crowd, and pursue your personal goals in your own way.

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