As I sat in a long hot bath on Sunday afternoon, complete with candles (thank you hubby), soaking my battered body back to some semblance of normality, I reflected on what I had undergone the day before.
Contemplating the cut and bruised knees and elbows I had inflicted upon myself, and going over all the fears I had experienced, I realised just what I had achieved – and learned. You may be wondering what on earth I had done. Been in a car accident? Been mugged? On the contrary. I had voluntarily – voluntarily – completed a 20 kilometre training course created by British Special Forces soldiers.
It’s called Tough Mudder. It is the hardest obstacle course in the world. And it made me understand that I am indeed, one tough mother.
Permit me to share the Seven Steps To Enlightment of the Extremely Muddy Samurai…
The training was critical and whilst I will admit I was not as fit as I wanted to be after badly rolling my ankle and tearing ligaments only 6 weeks ago, whether it be Tough Mudder, a new business venture, a presentation – the key is prepare, prepare, prepare. Saturday’s challenge was the biggest reminder to me of this as I struggled through ankle pain, calf cramps, hauling my body over 9 foot tall Berlin walls, and of course the running of 20 kilometres. The old saw of prior preparation prevents poor performance definitely rang true on this occasion – and surely this is the same for business plans.
Commitment to any decision you make is essential. Anyone can say “Yeah I’ll do it”, “Yes, give me that job”; but the real challenge is in true ownership and commitment to the decision you initially make. Believe me, there were a few times in the run-up and absolutely during the race that my commitment was challenged – but what kept me going is the commitment I had made to my team mates and most importantly to myself. I was not going to let either party down.
I discovered camaraderie on a level that I have never experienced before. Imagine running up to a 9 foot skate ramp style wall as fast as you can and jumping, hand held out – trusting that someone would grab you and haul you up and not let you fall. Or overcoming my absolutely overwhelming fear of being underground by vocalising it – being vulnerable – and my team member supporting me as I crawled through tunnels in the dark.
Team work, collaboration, camaraderie – we all know these are critical to success but really, how many teams – in sporting or business endeavours – do feel truly united in a single cause? When you are all committed to the same end and you will support each other no matter what, the destination is achieved… and it’s so, so much more of an accomplishment.
We all know this is critical; we are told at home, at university, in our workplaces, in terms of relationships; but my goodness communication was key on the weekend as we had to work together to overcome obstacles, or support each other through the cramp, the electrocution (seriously), our general fears. Active communication and listening to each other with true care and compassion was essential.
Well, that goes without saying. Determination, resilience, personal strength, fortitude – so many words are needed to describe what is physically and mentally necessary to get through the 20 kilometre course and 23 staggeringly difficult obstacles along the way. It was as though a lifetime’s lessons had been rolled into one incredibly muddy arena – and I had to make a decision whether or not I was resilient enough to learn those lessons and pass the exams – on the spot.
The euphoria of getting over the finish line together – wow! I was absolutely knackered and fighting back the tears, as I am sure were my team mates – just look at the smiles in the picture. The adrenalin rush of completion, the open acknowledgement of achievement and the chance to celebrate. It has to be done and it should be done. Celebrate more and celebrate openly. If you achieve something amazing in life, don’t be scared to say ‘I am great!’ – because you know what, you are!
NO PAIN NO GAIN:
The receiving of the orange Tough Mudder headband is only given to those that finish and never before has the phrase ‘no pain no gain’ made more sense to me. But this is what life is about. Things that come easily are usually not worth the winning. If there is a struggle, whether physical or mental, it means that you have fought for something because you truly wanted it. Not because it was there; but because you were determined and driven and knew that the outcome was worth the battles.
IMPROVE, IMPROVE, IMPROVE:
Yes I could stop here – but you know what, I won’t. Why? Because I know I can do even better. I had to walk some of the way due to cramp; I couldn’t do the monkey bars; I didn’t run as fast as my team mates; and whilst I am celebrating I know that with more preparation I can do better next time. The same can always be said in business; yes we should celebrate our successes, and similarly learn from our failures, but everything, absolutely everything can be improved on and evolved. Nothing should stay static – the wheel keeps turning.
So whilst I am still sore and slightly gobsmacked that I did it, and still petrified about the 15 foot drop in to black, muddy water – you know what?
I will be there again in October.