A man’s, got to know his limitations

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A man’s, got to know his limitations

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As a child, I had role models, mostly from TV, and one of these role models, not only to myself but also for my father, was Clint Eastwood. At the time Clint Eastwood had made his Cowboy westerns called 'Spaghetti Westerns' due to the fact that the director of the movies was Italian, Sergio Leone. Apparently, Sergio had very little grasp of the English language, which led to some fantastic scenes with very little monologue from the actors creating some wonderful suspense. So the genre of movies become to be known as 'Spaghetti Westerns'. Also during this time, the Dirty Harry movies were in VHS production so we could watch them over and over, learning all of the words, moves and actions throughout the movies.

The most famous of these and one that everyone gets wrong is the 44 Magnum speech; 
"I know what you're thinking, did he fire six shots or only five, well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself, seeing as this is a 44 Magnum the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you got to ask yourself one question, do I feel lucky, well do ya punk?"


Another one of the many sayings that I remember from these movies was Clint saying* “A man’s, got to know his limitations”. What does this mean to you? Most people probably wouldn’t think twice about this saying. And many liberals are very much angered by these movies which is easily understandable when you are always looking for issues and problems. But for some reason, it stuck with me and became almost a philosophy of mine. Let me explain what it means to me;

*Actually from the movie 'Magnum Force'.  

With so many self-help books, Gurus, experts in many fields, we are all taught to ‘fake it till you make it’ and work on your weaknesses, etc. But in reality, these quotes are really just half the story. A bit like the hearts and minds campaign of the US in Vietnam which failed miserably, why? Because they only practised half of what was necessary. The hearts and minds campaign was created by the British SAS in Malay, in the early 1960s. The concept was to send in standard regular troops to build hospitals, roads, schools, etc for the locals i.e. win over their hearts and their minds will follow. But another part to this campaign was the not so much talked about, and that was the British SAS would also hide up in the jungle and track down the guerrillas and stop them from contacting the local villages and thereby slowly remove their influence and support from the locals.

Unfortunately, the US didn’t know or bother to implement the second part of the campaign and so the Vietcong still continued to connect with the villagers and retain their supply routes and hold over the villagers. This, in turn, frustrated the US and they reacted badly which gave rise to resentment against them, strengthening the Vietcong’s cause.



The fake it until you make it moniker is another one that is constantly misunderstood. Yes, by all means, fake it in the beginning, but you should also work exceptionally hard, harder than normal to learn your trade so that you are not constantly faking it. This is very hard because not only will you be learning on the job, but you should be trying to overcome your lack of knowledge and experience with better knowledge and quickly. Not all people can do that and it's important to understand this point, that not everyone can do everything spouted by the experts. 


So, what does ‘A man’s, got to know his limitations’ mean to me?

It basically means know what you are good at, build on that skill to make it great, understand what you are not so good at and either, learn just enough to get by or find people who are good at what you are not. This takes humility and self-awareness. If you do not have either of these then you will not be able to ‘Know your limitations’.


In our modern society of participation awards, call-out culture and sensitivity it is vital that you know your own limitations. Not everyone can be the top scorer, the best boxer in the world, the best at anything, this, however, does not mean you do not try your best. You should always try your best. If you are a worm, be the best worm you can possibly be. Do not try to be an eagle, when you are simply just a worm. Don't try to compare yourself to the Eagle, even if the Eagle is giving you advice that worked for them. Try to know your place and be the very best worm that you can possibly be. 


Know what you are, know exactly what you are good at and what you are not so good at and what level you are at. Be honest with yourself. It does not mean that you do not have aspirations to be better, but as long as I have trained in the gym, (I started training when I was seven years old, I'm now 46 going on 47 years old) I am NO Ronnie Coleman, nor have I ever wanted to be. I am Nick Knight. And I will be the very best Nick Knight I can be, and to do that I need to know my limitations.

A man’s got to know his limitations.


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