We have many commitment strategies we can employ on a daily basis to reach our goals and succeed in our plans. Nevertheless, many of us fail because we allow challenges to take us of the success path and push us in a direction leading to failure. A winning attitude can be established by choosing to simply view our path as a challenge to our challenges. Yet, a relatively small group of people have learned to master this approach. How are they able to do it? How can they rationalize such an approach?
The most important aspect is the mental attitude.
It can be applied to relationships, personal deficiencies, traumas, and any other adversity life throws at us. We can all learn from this group of people who seek challenges on a regular basis. They are no different than anyone else; they made a decision to get stronger. Ultra-runners are athletes of all ages and from very different backgrounds who challenge themselves to run races of 100 miles and sometimes even longer over various terrains, in diverse weather conditions, with minimal to no support.
Dr. Shane Sampson, a 51 year old MD with a very impressive ultrarunning resume explains how people who decide to stand up and challenge their challenges – in this case deal with trauma and traumatic events – succeed: “… most people are exposed to significant emotional trauma in their lives. Some people are crushed by the weight of it, some merely exist within its shadow, while a small percentage of people learn to struggle and persist and overcome many of their obstacles. These lucky ones who challenge their challenges, learn that the true limits of their abilities lie far beyond what they previously believed. Those who learn to persist through their challenges and develop a deeper appreciation for their strengths, also develop a deeper appreciation for life in general — a more reasoned, philosophical approach that goes hand in hand with a more profound love for life and the world we live in. I also believe that (being the insecure animals that we are), we continue to doubt our abilities to struggle and overcome our obstacles. That is precisely why we run such long distances — we need to keep proving to ourselves that we are ‘good enough’. We need to try to show ourselves that we haven’t found our limits yet.” (S. Sampson, personal communication, 2013)
Another accomplished ultrarunner, former world record holder, and mountain climber Scott Brockmeier, a 52 years old RN, when asked to explain why we seek challenges, why some of us push the boundaries, explains: “It is very hard to pin down but I think it is the intensity of the experience that you get late in a 100 mile or longer race. Living here in the US we have pretty comfortable, safe, and easy lives. I believe that living the intensity of the effort, the pain, and pushing past the desire to stop the pain is a state that is somehow rewarding to us. It’s kind of paradoxical but I believe it is those hours of the most intense discomfort that are the most valuable and that keep us signing up for more races… It is those times when you most intensely want what you are experiencing to end (getting to a safe spot or getting to the finish of a 100 miler) that keeps drawing you back.” (S. Brockmeier, personal communication, 2013)
The answer to the same question and one which makes sense to 44 years old professor and experienced ultrarunner Chris Twiggs is: “we challenge ourselves to go into the darkness. What I can say through is that the experience of living through the 100 makes me a better person – not better than anyone else, just better than I was before… there is a place I go, deep within myself during a 100, where no one can follow, no one can access, no one can understand… [except people who run 100s].” (C. Twiggs, personal communication, 2013)
All of the above responses point into one direction – if we can teach ourselves to challenge our challenges, if we can decide to fight our weakness, to push through the darkness, we will eventually see the light. We will be able to come out at the end of our challenges stronger, cleaner, and wiser. We will be capable to better understand ourselves and the world we live in, we will be better suited to survive.
So next time you are challenged, embrace your challenge and by doing so you will have a powerful commitment strategy to succeed!