Every event in our lives is an opportunity to learn

6 things I learnt from competing in the Warrior race

In today’s world, we are all encapsulated in the hustle and bustle of our own lives and striving to achieve greatness in our own ways.  What sets these people apart?  Could it be that they turn their dreams and aspirations into a reality through preparation, setting of goals, and then enduring and persevering through their struggles?  We all classify success in different ways. Success to me may mean finishing the race, and to others it might be a podium finish.

*Warrior Race: for those who don’t know; is an off-road trail run, with lots of big, muddy and wet obstacles.

 1.       Welcome the challenges and visualise your success

When I was asked if I would like to participate in the Warrior race with our company, my first thought was: Who in RS had signed up? Many of my colleagues that had signed up were real fitness “freaks”. And then, there was me who worked out here and there… It was a daunting thought that I may be the weakest link in what seemed like such a strong team to me.

The more I thought about it though, the more I realised that this was in fact a great opportunity on many different levels. I had an opportunity to bond and learn about fellow colleagues from other departments,  to test myself physically against peers whom I considered to be far fitter than me and lastly, to test myself in something I thought I would never do.  Was this daunting?  Most definitely!  But then you realise the rewards, and they far outweigh the negatives.

Too often I find the majority focus only on the negative aspects of a new challenge, especially if it takes you out your comfort zone. We then get so caught up on the: what if I can’t, what if I make a fool of myself, or, as in my case, what if I am the weakest link in our team.

Instead, we should focus on what we can achieve at the end by seeing yourself at the finish line; successful. We should also take note of the potential obstacles, this should never be done to dissuade you or as something to hold you back, but rather as hurdles you have to overcome to gain your prize. Once you know what you can expect, take a look at yourself; your strengths and see what you have to offer to overcome your challenges. And what if you don’t have enough to overcome it by yourself? Well, are you ever truly alone? Ask those beside you, your friends, family, and team mates. There is always someone close at hand.  In the end, this is where you find the strength and the confidence to reach your goals.

2.       Skills can be improved however tough it may seem

Can we be an expert without ever attempting something beforehand?   Let’s face it, in learning anything new, you’re not going to be an expert at it right away. Before you run a race, you need to learn how to walk first. So in preparation to competing in the Warrior race I decided to join CrossFit.  At CrossFit, I was constantly reminded to leave my ego at the door, no one really has to tell you this, as the workouts you do each day in their own right do it for you.  I came to realise very soon at CrossFit that I ‘sucked’ and often wondered to myself, “what the heck am I doing here?!” But what CrossFit has taught me is that it identified my weaknesses. It had no feeling or prejudice, and acted just like a critic would. I chose to embrace it, learn from it, and turn those weaknesses into strengths, and ultimately new skills.

3.       Preparation is key and “don’t listen to the voices”

There were two types of preparation that I needed to do, one was of course the physical fitness and then there was the mental toughness.   Mental toughness can be described as a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances and emerge without losing confidence. Before the race I was filled with nerves and scared of the unknown, I was not sure whether I was going to make the race and if perhaps I had bitten off more than I could chew.  During the run I had voices in my head telling me to walk, this is just too tough, whilst my heart kept pushing me and reminding me that I have trained hard and can do this. When I completed the race and overcome the voices telling me to slow down, I realised that I had mentally become tougher and realised that I am able to overcome difficult challenges.

4.       Team work socially creates team work professionally

And what if you don’t have enough to overcome it by yourself? Well, are you ever truly alone? Ask those beside you, your friends, family, and teammates. There is always someone close at hand.  In the end, this is where you find the strength and the confidence to reach your goals.  Team work is extremely important to the success of any team.

For this race we had to be a unified team where each member contributed, as the reality was that if we could not work together we could not complete the race as we had to finish as a team.  The saying always goes, you can have a group of superstars but if you don’t work as one unit, chances are you will not be as successful as you think.

5.       Perseverance gives a lifetime of reward

I have learnt that the worst thing to do is give up. Especially if you gave up knowing you could have done more.  The pain you feel during the race and at those tough obstacles is only temporary. But the success and achievement you get at the end lasts forever.

By accepting the challenges that face me, whatever they may be, has taught me to carry on, to never give up. Whether competing as a team or on my own, I’ve learned to focus and give 100% the entire time, even when I felt like I could not carry on. The reward of success was just too addictive!

6.       Get out there, gain experience but most of all have fun

Don’t weigh yourself down when you face challenges in life. But rather, see it as part of a great big adventure race regardless of what it is. You have the tools you need to get through it, the only one stopping you, is you. Some things may not be pleasant, you may be stuck in the mud, at the bottom of a pit, but it will get better. You just have to find what you need to carry on. It may be a helping hand, it may be you need to build a ladder, or maybe you just have to work that little bit harder.

But guaranteed, the harder the journey, the greater the sense of accomplishment when you cross that finish line. You may be relieved that it is finished, or you may even find that you look for similar challenges in life because it was just that great!  Either way, you’ve got new experiences to draw from, you have increased your knowledge, and you have newly developed skills you can use in the future. Most of all have fun and enjoy the challenges as every event in our lives is an opportunity to learn.