Arnold Schwarzenegger claims to equate the experience of pumping iron to “cumming”.
It’s a mindset of focusing on the pleasure of the outcome, rather than the pain of the rep. The outcome? He went from lifting his first weight at 15 to winning Mr Universe within five years, followed by becoming Mr Olympia seven times. Not bad for a poor kid from Austria.
What Schwarzenegger mastered was putting himself in the Groan Zone.
The Groan Zone is the growth sweet spot. An intersection of your ability and a challenge. If Arnie lifted too heavy he’d fail and even hurt himself. If he didn’t lift enough his growth would stagnate.
The Groan Zone applies to any field. It’s something we’ve all experienced. It’s the feeling of asking someone out on a first date. The feeling that consumed us when we hit publish on our first article. The feeling before you present to a large crowd.
The Groan Zone feels scary in the moment but causes us to grow. Whether it be literally like Arnold growing muscles or in ability and confidence.
Motivated to understand my limits and grow, I've begun to challenge myself to enter the Groan Zone everyday.
To overcome my fear of rejection and being vulnerable, one of my first challenges was to reach out to Hugh Van Cylenburg, founder of the Resilience Project on Instagram. I messaged to thank him for his work and how sharing his story inspired me to share my own vulnerabilities.
I’ll admit, upon sending the message I didn’t quite find the ecstasy of cumming. In fact the conversation in my head like this:
Me: YOU IDIOT! IF HE OPENS THIS YOU TOTALLY JUST WASTED APPROXIMATELY 5 SECONDS OF HIS LIFE. HE’S GOING TO HATE YOU FOREVER. YOU BETTER NEVER BE FAMOUS NOW. IT WILL BE SO EMBARRASSING TO EVER MEET HIM. UUUUGGGHHHHH.
However, within this groan I also felt accomplishment. I successfully pushed myself to overcome a fear I had. I also became excited by the thought of Hugh actually replying. It felt like I’d opened a door for myself that didn’t previously exist.
After sending the message I had to force myself to meditate for 20 minutes to settle my brain which was screaming at me. Upon re-emerging I checked my instagram and couldn’t believe my eyes. He replied with two one-minute audios!
In the first audio he shares how he was now running 15 minutes late for a meeting because my keynote was so good. He goes on to thank me for messaging and share personal anecdotes about how much he resonates with my story and struggles.
I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
Someone whose books I’ve read and is the very best at what they do loved my keynote.
I’ve since become obsessed with putting myself in the Groan Zone. It feels like this perfect cocktail of pain and anticipation. Painful because I’m forcing myself to cross pre-existing boundaries I built for myself. Anticipation for the growth I’ll experience and the possibility of what doors may open.
By putting yourself in the Groan Zone once a day you open yourself up to the possibility of dramatic growth. To improve 1% everyday leads to an improvement of over 37% within a year. It explains Schwarzenegger’s meteoric rise within weightlifting.
Whether you’re looking to become a world class athlete, personally challenge yourself or grow, start thinking of ways you can put yourself in the Groan Zone.
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