Finding and Overcoming Challenges

Have you ever wanted to find and overcome a difficult challenge? It seems asinine to believe any human would have the desire to face adversity, yet that’s exactly what I’m considering this morning.

Not the type of adversity or challenge that’s detrimental to my well-being because that would be stupid! Rather my interest is in a challenge to help me become mentally and physically stronger.

There are actually “junkies” who seek out these insane circumstances. GoRuck, Tough Mudder, IronMan, and Badwater 135 are just a few organizations bringing people together for the common bond of suffering. It seems crazy but these types of challenges are making millions of dollars; people are paying to face adversity!

Overcoming challenges in bootcamp.

Back in 1996 I didn’t have to pay to Embrace the Suck; I got it for free by enlisting in the US Army and Oklahoma National Guard. All I had to do was complete the paperwork, pass my physicals, and raise my right hand to make an oath. And off to Fort Benning, Georgia, I went to complete 13 weeks of Infantry Training.

Shark Attack from Bootcamp

What in the hell was I thinking?

Besides the fact I’d get three squares a day and learn how to kill with my bare hands, the idea of surviving a shark attack and earning my Blue Infantry Cord was weirdly arousing. I loved Rambo as a teenager so it made perfect sense in my mind.

Basic training in the military isn’t easy. Basic training at Fort Benning was far from easy.

As bad as it was at times, it was also sadistically fun. Getting constantly smoked (a term meaning extreme PT) by Drill Sergeants hell bent on breaking me down and building me up was rewarding. Holding a plastic chair with your arms straight out in front of you for 10 minutes might not seem like a big deal, but when you have to do it over and over again because you failed … well that will break you mentally and physically.

There are so many stories I could share from bootcamp but the gist is this; getting pinned with my Infantry badge after a 30 mile forced ruck march with 60 lbs of gear on my back was one of the best moments in life. It gave me the perspective that my mind and body were capable of doing way more than I thought possible, as well as confidence for overcoming challenges in the future.

Finding new challenges are beneficial.

There are no real benefits to binge watching Netflix for hours while sucking down sodas. There’s no value to living a life in a bubble while worshiping total comfort. Maybe this is why I’ve loved hiking so much. But it’s not enough to satisfy my craving.

When we face challenges we grow. When we overcome adversity our mind and body gets stronger. When we do hard things our lives will benefit from it.

Sure it sucks ass when you are going through it, but when you come out on the other side, it can bring a rewarding sense of accomplishment. Embracing the suck is a mindset anyone can learn and it will help you overcome challenges you thought weren’t possible. This is a wonderful experience and a great place to be.

Marching toward greatness.

Perhaps this all sounds like some hyper-masculine bullshit brought on by aging and the regrets of my youth. If so, I should probably seek professional counseling and resolve it through talking about my feelings. But let me ask you this … don’t we all aspire to overcome challenges we thought were impossible?

Whether you identify as a man, woman, or gender neutral, all of us want to achieve some form of greatness. Maybe it’s winning the Boston Marathon or as simple as launching the business you’ve been dreaming about. Regardless, I believe every human desires to do something inspirational with their life, whatever that is.

Yet you cannot achieve greatness if you’re not willing to embrace the suck.

No matter what the objective, if you aspire to do the impossible, you’re going to face challenges. Throw all that positive Oprah or magical Joel Osteen crap out the door. The hero in the story will always encounter adversity. With this truth we should boldly accept and welcome the hardship coming our way.

My quest for greatness has nothing to do with vanity goals but has to do with pushing myself to the limits again to reap the benefits of those challenges – mostly personal growth and improved physique. Suffering will be a part of that journey unfortunately, but the rewards will be priceless.

Failure is a part of the adventure too.

There’s no illusion that everything will work out and there’s a 50/50 chance that any of my hopeful endeavors will fail.

In bootcamp, my desire was earning the highest levels of awards and graduating in the top 1% of my class. In my mind I was the next John Rambo of First Blood, but in reality I was John Winger (Bill Murray) in Stripes. My drive for greatness in the military never materialized as I wanted.

John Rambo vs John Winger

There’s no guarantee you or I will ever overcome the adversity or challenge as hoped. That’s not the point.

What really matters is that we make a decision to accept the challenge and go for it. Read that again. It’s important to understand that failure is a part of the process, and even if the result is less than desirable, we will still experience growth. Besides, the pain of suffering is less than the pain of regret.

I might not have been the high-speed Green Beret, special operations ninja I wanted to be but I’m forever thankful and proud to have served in the military. Even if it didn’t turn out as expected, there are no regrets and that is more important.

Go ahead. Find your challenge and overcome it.

As I scout out and research the many possibilities to challenge myself, I also want to encourage you to do the same. Find something you know won’t be easy for you to do and take the steps toward adversity. And if I can support you or scream at you like a Drill Sergeant, let me know.

When I discover the ideal opportunity for myself, I’ll post it on this website and keep you in the loop. Until then, happy hunting!