Bouncing the discus across the sea

by maximusaurus

There’s this scene in the 1960s version of Jason and the Argonauts (As opposed to the 2000 TV remake, which is about as enjoyable as a smoke alarm during a hangover) where a clever but not exactly muscular youth challenges Hercules to a discus throwing contest.

Hercules, being far stronger, (if Greek heroes are anything to go by, Zeus paid for his palace in Olympus by dealing steroids) throws his discus an extraordinary distance, hitting a far off rock. Then it’s the youth’s turn. His throw goes nowhere near as far, but then it skips off the water, and keeps going until it bounces over the rock.

I find this a good analogy for goal setting. If we set sky high targets and aim to get there in a single attempt, it’s easy to fall short, and either end up right where we started, or worse, slip backwards from the disheartening feeling of having “failed”.

On the other hand, if we take the same lofty goal, but break it down into a series of smaller milestones which we take on one at a time, not only does the end goal feel more reachable, but the steady string of little victories along the way is a nice confidence booster.

For example, if you start doing pushups, trying for a hundred on your first attempt probably won’t work. But if you start with 5, then go up to 10, then 15, and so forth, you’re much more likely to succeed in the end. This doesn’t just apply to pushing yourself physically either, but also to pushing yourself emotionally or psychologically also, such as facing a phobia.

If you build yourself up gradually, you may surprise yourself at what you can achieve.