In this video we see Prof Richard Wiseman (of “The Luck Factor” and “Quirkology“) demonstrating that firewalking is a load of old tosh. Most enjoyable, as although we believe in the power of the mind sometimes it can be taken a bit too far! Fine line, genius and insanity!

It got me thinking about the power of the mind and that it can actually only take you so far… sometimes you have to go with the Stockdale Paradox and realise that simply being blindly optimistic about your ability to deal with anything in your path does not have longevity.

The firewalkers could have walked the whole length of the burning coals, had they kept stepping off every 15 feet, checking their feet and then stepping back on for another 15 foot burst. It’s still walking the whole length, but it’s realising that natural limitations need to be listened to and accounted for.

Who out there is simply trying to tough it out by pushing themselves in the blind belief that your body can take anything and you simply have to hang in there for long enough? Who is being smarter and regularly facing the reality of the situation you’re in, coming up with a short term plan to make progress and then sense checking again? Focused bursts of intense, full conviction effort, contrasted by regrouping and recovering will ultimately allow more of your natural talents to be used, with much greater effect.

Don’t be like the fire walkers! Understand that you’re capable of great things when the pressure’s on, but be smart about the way that you use your abilities and apply them mindfully to the immediate challenges you face so that you can keep using your talents and not get burnt out!