A few months ago, I had arthroscopic surgery on my knee. This was my first surgery since a 1993 ski injury, when, younger and without much good sense, I skied off a marked “cliff area” that had no snow, and partially tore my ACL while causing considerable cartilage damage.
Four months ago, after my surgery, I began the normal course of physical therapy, a mostly routine undertaking involving stationary bikes, colored bands, and walking up and down a ‘step’ taken straight from 1980s aerobics classes.
The one bright spot comes at the end of therapy, when Jim, my therapist, puts two electrical stimulation pads on my knee and then wraps my knee in ice for 10 minutes. The stimulation is like a massage inside my knee. Aaaah!
Setting the stimulation level is a mildly medieval process: Jim turns the dial until I cry “uncle,” the level at which I can barely stand the intensity. That’s the most I can take. After a while the stimulation level drops, which I assumed was how the machine works, to let the patient ease out of the therapy session.
But here’s the surprise: Jim told me last week that the stimulation level doesn’t change at all. It’s my body that adjusts. So while Level 46 (whatever that means) is where I start, after 10 minutes I’m comfortable at Level 55 (he let me turn up the dial).
Right now you may feel like you are at your maximum potential – running flat out, working as hard as you can, doing as much as you can do. Don’t underestimate your ability to adjust and grow. Taking on that next big idea (starting a blog, launching a new project, mentoring a student) may put you just past your maximum today, but soon that maximum will be your new routine. You’ll adjust and you will have space for more.