It’s every kid’s dream to be a superhero with incredible strength and dazzling powers. And, as it turns out, the realization of such a dream might not only belong to science fiction.

That’s because fatigue and the physical limits of your body actually only exist in your head. In other words, you’re capable of actions that go beyond your normal abilities.

Just consider Tom Boyle, an ordinary American. He and his wife once saw an 18-year-old boy ride his bike head-on into a Chevy Camaro on a suburban road in Tucson, Arizona. They sped to the scene, and Tom immediately set to work lifting the front end of the car with his bare hands, freeing the boy’s legs in the process. When the boy still couldn’t get clear of the vehicle due to his injury, Boyle screamed to the driver to drag the boy free.

In other words, Boyle broke the Olympic deadlift record even though there was nothing physically extraordinary about him. He was just a simple paint-shop supervisor whose drive to save a young boy gave him superhuman strength.

What’s more amazing is that you can draw on such an ability regularly by finding a purpose that transcends yourself.

For example, the University of Michigan public-health professor Victor Strecher had a daughter named Julia. Julia suffered from heart trouble and eventually required two transplants. Every time his daughter’s health suffered, Strecher was reminded of the value of life and was driven to make the most of his time with her. When, on her nineteenth birthday, she passed away, Strecher entered the bleakest period in his life. This deep melancholy finally broke on Father’s Day when he hallucinated his deceased daughter telling him to move forward.

This inspired him to shift his research to understanding the power of purpose, a decision that led to his becoming one of the best teachers in his field. To what does he attribute his success? He says he sees his daughter’s face in every student and teaches them as if they were Julia.

And if that’s not a prime example of the power of purpose, it’d be hard to say what is.