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What I Learned From A Hot Dog Eating Contest

On Saturday I watched the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Joey Chestnut was going for his ninth straight victory in this event.  He had dominated for years, but this year brought a new champion, Matt Stonie.  Stonie managed to eat 62 hot dogs in ten minutes.

As impressive as this feat was, it hasn’t been many years that these competitive eaters have reached these numbers.  It began with the pioneer of the sport, Kobayashi.

Before Kobayashi came on the scene, the record for hot dog eating was 25 1/8 hot dogs.  Kobayashi studied ways to improve his performance.  He experimented with new ways to eat competitively.  When he took on the other eaters, he destroyed the record by eating 50 hot dogs.  He dominated for some time, before finally being beaten by Chestnut.

The thing is that everyone thought that 25 hot dogs was incredible until Kobayashi came along.  He stretched the competition to new limits that others have been able to follow.

This is not totally different from what Roger Bannister did with the mile run.  No one had been able to crack the 4:00 barrier.  Once Bannister did so, others were able to do it as well.  The barrier was broken.

What can we learn from Kobayashi and Bannister?  It’s that most limits are artificial.  We determine what our limits and barriers are and find it difficult to overcome them.  Once they are broken, we suddenly see that what we are trying to achieve is possible.

We might see this in our career.  We might not think it possible to take it to another level, but we see someone who has pioneered the path before us and then we are able.

Maybe it’s in relationships.  Perhaps all you have ever seen are broken relationships and divorce.  You don’t think it is possible to have a sustained marriage until you meet a couple that has successfully managed to be happily married.

Maybe you don’t think it’s possible to run a marathon until you realize that Dean Karnazes ran 50 of them in 50 days in 50 states.  Running one suddenly doesn’t seem impossible.

It doesn’t matter what it is.  You have placed barriers and limits on something in your life.  Something that is possible to overcome, but you simply don’t believe it for yourself.  Someone has paved the way before you.  If you can just get a picture of it in your mind, you can do it as well.

Fight to overcome those limitations that you have placed on yourself.  Find ways to overcome your barriers.  Set a big, hairy audacious goal and proceed with blasting through your obstacles.  You will be amazed at what you can do.

Have you ever faced limitations or barriers that you found a way to overcome in your life?

  1. July 6, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Very good point Larry. We are often limited by limits-those set by others and those set by ourselves. We are often told we can only go so far. I was once told I needed to leave the ministry, I was not ministry material. One of those men (a pastor) had multiple affairs. Another had an affair and divorced. I may have not been the best example of what a pastor should be or do, but God was not done with me yet.

  2. robshep
    July 6, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Yes. I was told I shouldn’t plant a church because it would fail.

  3. jonstolpe
    July 6, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    It amazes me how often we are on a similar wave length in our daily postings. My post this morning was about pressing the boundaries of our comfort zones by trying new things. This weekend I tried paddle boarding which was something I didn’t think was possible for someone like me – with a high center of gravity and low sense of balance.

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