How to enjoy a challenge – a guest post from Peter McFadyen.
If someone walked up to you and asked if you’d like to get hit repeatedly by 10,000 volts would you take up that offer? What if you were able to bring along your friends and family? What if there would be 26,000 other people with you to enjoy the experience?
Of course, though the voltage is high the current is low so there is little chance you’ll die …. but they’ll get you to sign a death waiver anyway just to be on the safe side! On top of that you’ll get to run about 20km and go through 20 other obstacles in blazing heat or freezing cold, and there’s a time limit.
Afterwards there is a valuable reward – a free drink and a headband and the knowledge that you are now a Tough Mudder!
Tough Mudder is truly a challenging thing to do. The course designers, ex-SAS guys, hit all the high notes on a variety of fears and phobias with remarkable skill and planning. Be it confined spaces, heights, dunking under a pool filled with ice or shooting out through a wall of fire you will find it there waiting for you. There is also the sheer physical endurance side of the challenge with the 20k run, wading through waist deep mud, the log carry and the Berlin Wall.
Not the least, ever present in your mind the knowledge going in that by the time you finish you will be exhausted, injured to a greater or lesser extent and before you finish you get hit repeatedly by 10,000 volts as you run the final gauntlet that is Electric Shock Therapy.
We do this in the name of fun, comradeship and family bonding! In all honesty we also do it because not too many of the population will do it, because it is a little mad, and to raise funds for a good cause.
I’ve completed a Tough Mudder course three times now, which gives me a blue headband, and I have looked on in awe and envy at those with a black headband. These 10 times veterans of the Tough Mudder experience are worthy of respect.
Twice I’ve had the joy of completing the course with both my sons and have loved working with them to overcome the obstacles on the course. I have seen them complete the course with cuts, bruises and sprains and on the brink of exhaustion.
At the same time we were all wearing kilts, calling each other ‘Lachlan’ and truly enjoying the day. Along the way our sense of enthusiasm and readiness to engage other Mudder’s won us a small group of fans who cheered us on our way and congratulated us afterwards – it’s amazing what a smile, a bit of encouragement and an outrageous Scottish accent can do to lift peoples spirits.
So the question has to be asked – if we do that for fun, what would we call pain? Or is pain just a lack of preparation and a poor mindset?
Not to stray into the metaphysical side of things too deeply, there is a lot to be said for attitude and preparation when it comes to the difference between enduring and enjoying. As always, if you go into something willingly and with a reasonable understanding of the challenges you will face then you are able to participate in the challenge with a sense of enjoyment and come away with a sense of achievement. Going into the same challenge unprepared and uninformed will increase the opportunity to be overwhelmed, overcome and disengaged.
Be it a new job, an adventure or an intense period of work, what can you do to prepare for a challenge? In the various planned and unplanned challenges I have met so far, the ones which I have come through in the best shape have been ones which I have applied the following steps to:
1) Learn as much as you can about what you are letting yourself in for – especially the deadlines, the deliverables and the likely delay points.
2) Prepare as thoroughly as possible with the time you have.
3) Break the challenge down into suitable chunks – nobody eats an elephant in one sitting.
4) Schedule the workload so you don’t get too tired to be effective.
5) Be kind to yourself throughout the process, there will be tough times and good times and you need to accept both as a natural part of the process.
6) Ask for help when you need it. You may be able to do it all yourself but it will probably be faster, just as good and more enjoyable if you accept help.
7) Go into it with a sense of fun and determination.
8) Be prepared to laugh along the way. Being too serious takes too much energy.
9) Let go of fear, it is exhausting and limiting.
10) And finally, believe in yourself. Know that you will come through this successfully.
The order of the steps can be moved around and you may need to revisit some of them throughout the process. In my experience none of them may be skipped if you are to come through your challenge successfully and improved for the experience. Your attitude and your willingness to continue throughout the challenge will be key in your success. Being able to laugh along the way at the small joys you find and revelling in the shared experience will also be key to your success.
After all, if being hit by 10,000 volts can be accepted as just part of the experience, then the human mind can surely adapt to most circumstance given the right preparation and a willingness to grow from the experience.
“Let your life be your message” Mahatma Gandhi.