Certainly there is nothing more validating than performing at your best. All of us have our own unique skill sets and its always fun to have a chance to "strut your stuff".
The greater challenge comes in pushing ourselves to do those things that we are less skilled at. Nowhere is this more true than in the area of exercise and fitness.
I am always struck by how people (women and men) stick to what we know and what makes us look the best.
Runners run, flexible folks do yoga, strong people lift weights. All of us gravitate towards our natural gifts. The problem is that it is usually the thing that we want to do the least that we need the most. Moreover, not addressing those "just can't do that" deficits, is associated with increased risk of injury. It might not happen tomorrow, but if we don't address it it's likely to happen at some point in the future.
I've known big muscular guys who can bench 300 lbs with ease, but can't come close to touching their toes. Strong as they are, these he-men could end up "blowing" a disc in their backs just bending over to pick up a pencil. Their weakest link isn't their strength its their flexibility.
On the other end of the spectrum, I have a girlfriend who is a choreographer and dancer. She is probably the most flexible person that I've ever met. You know, one of those freaky Cirque Du Soliel types that can lie on her back and rest her leg comfortably on her shoulder.
Well, what does my pal...this gumby-esq creature focus on? You guessed it -- she is an avid yogini. She works at becoming more flexible. Um....why? She already has a lock on the flexibility market.
And PS...guess what happened to her? Well, she actually tore her gluteus maximus (the butt muscle) doing a kick while dancing. She was soooo flexible, that she kicked her leg up and it just kept going-- RIP-- YEEE-OUCH!!. There wasn't enough strength and stability in her hips to put the breaks.
Goes to show you, flexibility is great (and very important) but you CAN have too much of a good thing. Sadly, it was a long and painful recovery, because its the largest single muscle in the body and its involved in a lot of the activities of every day life so she couldn't really "rest" it.
Well-rounded fitness is the result of three basic components: muscular fitness (both strength and endurance), flexibility and cardiovascular/metabolic fitness.
Unfortunately, MOST of us do not take an honest inventory of what our weakest link is...we tend to focus on one of these three or perhaps two at most. Often we avoid one of these three entirely and more often than not it is usually the thing we need the most -- our "weak link".
What is it for you? What could you do more of? What is the thing you like doing the least, maybe because you aren't particularly good at it? What do you think would happen if you tried doing a bit more of it?
Consider this brilliant quote from my friend, Gray Cook (famed physical therapist and author of the excellent book, Movement) speaking about "self-limiting" exercises (activities that put you up against your physical barriers).
“Anytime we don’t acknowledge our weakest links or confront them in training, we demonstrate the same behavior that caused our collective functional movement patterns to erode in the first place.
Embedded in each workout, the self-limiting activities continually whisper the message that we cannot become stronger than our weakest links.” (Movement, 2010)