On the 8th of June my colleagues and I drove down to Winchester to take part in “the toughest event the world has even seen,” aka TOUGH MUDDER. Tough Mudder is a 12 mile run interspersed with 24 hellish obstacles including running through electric shocks, immersing yourself in a tub full of ice cubes and trudging through a mile of mud.
During the car journey I was trying to reason why I had decided to take part since I am neither:
1) Tough – I’ve never even won a thumb war
2) Fit - I didn’t complete the 800m sports day race in year 5 due to an asthma attack half way around
WHAT WAS I THINKING!?
It then came to me: I had been enticed by the competition and the sense of achievement you get upon completing something incredibly difficult. Tough Mudder did not let me down in this respect. When I crossed over that finish line I was euphoric! My Mum, who had loyally come to watch us all, strode over to me and said “you’re amazing!” and I stood there thinking “I really am!”
Tough Mudder is one thing, but this sense of achievement can and should be felt in your work place as well. And not only to your benefit: employers are looking for candidates who are motivated to learn new skills and involve themselves in new experiences. Furthermore, the importance of being able to take on challenges in the work place is one of the key attitudes employers aim to encourage within their companies. Take a look at Amazon.co.uk’s leadership principles.
So how best to go about completing a challenge?
1) Choosing your challenge.
During Tough Mudder I saw 6ft 4 men cowering before tunnels due to claustrophobia whilst I was more worried about getting over a 15ft wall (having tall men in the team was definitely a strategic decision). Everyone’s challenge is different.
Examples of challenges in the work place are:
Writing your first report
Organising an event
Creating a financial model without support
It’s important to pick your battles and form a clear perception of the challenge you are aiming to overcome.
2) Give yourself a deadline
Challenges, by their nature, tend to be scary so you need to set yourself a deadline to ensure that you actually complete it. This deadline needs to be realistic so you can build yourself up gradually and ensure that you have time to train - or you could cause yourself a lot of embarrassment. (No one wants to worry they are tired out after the compulsory Tough Mudder 10 minute warm up before the race!)
3) Preparation is key
The preparation element of a challenge can, at times, be just as hard as the challenge itself. (I know I resented being dragged around 5km worth of Clapham Common on a weekly basis.) However, if you aren’t prepared you are highly likely to struggle to enjoy the challenge, or worse, fail to complete it.
How to prepare:
Do your research
Practice, practice, practice
Give yourself small targets to reach on a weekly basis
4) Most importantly - Utilise your support team
Before and throughout Tough Mudder I was heavily reliant on my team (and thank you all for getting me round!). Tell your Line Manager or colleagues what you are hoping to complete and by what date. They might have completed similar tasks themselves, making them well placed to offer advice.
Never forget there’s a wealth of information out there to help: Books / Internet / Training courses... don’t be shy to ask your company for help and advice on accessing the training tools you need.
All there is left to do now is wish you GOOD LUCK