Well, if you wanted one word, then 'transcend', as mentioned before is that word, meaning as it does:
'to rise above or go beyond the limits of' or 'to rise above or extend notably beyond ordinary limits'
However, I've got some phrasal verbs for you as well:
1.) break new ground, as in: While their brethren live and die in the water, members of the family Excoetidae, the flying fish, have broken new ground ,taking to the air in magnificent flight.
2.) reach new frontiers, as in: By the late Cretaceous period, birds were proving themselves to be the most successful group of animals. They could hold their own on land and take to the air where none could follow them. They were already unrivalled, when some of their number-pelicans, seagulls and the like- reached an entirely new frontier. The sea.
You could even use some ordinary words creatively. Take 'defy', for instance. You could have people 'defying old habits', or 'old addictions' or 'limitations'. And if you consider the general inability of birds to swim or fish to fly as 'limitations', then you could use 'chains' as a metaphor. Then, you could speak of pelicans 'breaking the chains that keep their brethren from the water' or 'snapping the chains' or whatever emphatic verb you choose.
Using the above approach, there's an endless number of ways you can express the idea you want. Have fun!
Credits to the on-line Merriam-Webster dictionary for defining 'transcend'.
Transcend. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transcend