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BoldTrek » Blog Archive » The Power of 51

The Power of 51


A couple of decades ago, I served as an instructor for the U.S.  Army Physical Fitness School… the first female officer to do so.  Surprise!  A key part of our mission was to certify select soldiers to serve as Master Fitness Trainers in their units around the world.  The academically and physically rigorous 4-week class trained up to 60 elite soldier-athletes… approximately 90% of which were men.                                                       

My favorite session to lead was a one hour Pushup and Sit Up Improvement session.  This hands-on learning event was certainly not for the faint of heart or for those who might enjoy a big breakfast.  It was grueling.  In order to maximize the growth of large muscle groups, we did pushups in dozens of permutations of angles and space… arms as wide as possible with one foot off the ground and a fellow soldier pushing on your back, one hand on 2 sandbags and one hand on the ground, and my favorite: hands close together in a diamond shape with your feet up on another soldiers back… yeah!  We didn’t do these pushups in cadence together but rather in timed sets of 60, 45, and 30 seconds so that each soldier could maximize their effort.  Some would do 30 pushups some would do 50 pushups.  The goal for each set (and we did dozens during the session) was to do as many correct pushups as you could… to muscle failure… the point where the growth comes from.  Yes, we cranked them out until muscle failure…set after painful set.  Ouch….but that is what we were all striving for: to get to the growth. 

You see, the first 10 or 30 or 50 pushups served to get you to the point where you could just eek out that one last, correct push up and make your leap in strength.  You had to do the hard work to get to the other side, where the real growth is made.  Indeed, that sweet space that makes all of the difference is right there: Push Up #51. 

Check in with yourself right now.  Things feel tough?  Struggling to help your business survive?   Feel like you have your feet up on a wall and your hands close together with burning triceps and a bit of nausea?  I agree with Seth Godin… it might be time to quit (do read The Dip).  But, if the path is right, push on.  See things through.  Want that other side… that growthBreathe.  Crank!   48, 49, 50 …


5 Responses to “The Power of 51”

  1. Connie Dorigan Says:

    Thanks. Onward….51, 52, 53.


    Connie Dorigan, CPC
    Dorigan & Associates
    “I find hidden tech talent for companies”
    503-635-8565 tel | 503-635-9492 fax
    Private Cell 503-888-2965

  2. Lili Says:

    Thank you Sue for the reminder that the pain often peaks just before the growth – 49, 50….

  3. Mary Says:


    I have a quote on my wall that says “Successful people make a habit of doing what people who fail avoid doing”.

    Also, sometimes it isn’t that you have to quit what your are doing if it isn’t working, you might just need to tweek it. Get out of the box and do it differently. I recently tweeked my work. I thought about what needed to happen to get results, not what I was expected to do to get results. It turned things around and very quickly.

    Go for it and don’t be afraid to think very creatively about what could bring results for you or your organization.


  4. ignitewhatmatters Says:

    Love the energy and the focus on different thinking and different action… for different, bold results! On, On!

  5. Francie Says:

    Best post, Sue. Giving me a lot to think about. How did they do after one muscle group was broken down? I find I can push myself to break down one “muscle group” enough for growth, but if I rotate too quickly, I lose focus and have a hard time convincing myself to keep it up. Spreading myself thin I think is a common challenge many face, and a hard cycle to climb out of alone. Enter team work. Sometimes it’s my family, othertimes friends or colleagues, but to know that becoming the most elite soldier-athlete took intense training, with the engagement of fellow soldiers, reminds me to engage the asistance of others where needed to keep my mind on #51.

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