In Others’ Words: When We Face Difficulties

Meeting Difficulties 2015


I love Tough Mudders. You know what I mean — the courses where you take on obstacles like the Human Hamster Wheel and the Dead Ringer and Electroshock Therapy 2.0. And you get muddy — really, really muddy.

And then there’s the Spartan Race with obstacles like the Rope Climb and the Tire Drag and the Traverse Wall. You get muddy doing this course too — and if you don’t complete an obstacle, you get to do 30 burpees. Fun that, right?

Now, when I say I love Tough Mudders, I mean I love watching them. I cheer on my family members as they conquer the Warped Wall or the Barbed Wire Crawl. I haul my camera around the course and record their athletic accomplishments.

But even as a spectator, I’ve learned that an obstacle course is one huge, muddy life lesson.

You either have what it takes to finish the course — or you don’t. And if you don’t, you can always train for a year to become that person who can finish the race. Of course, there are some people (like me), who will never run a Mudder or a Spartan race. And I’m okay with that. Someone has to cheer athletes on, right?

There is always going to be someone ahead of you on the course — and there’s always going to be someone behind you on the course. This is true, unless you are some elite athlete who blasts out in front of the pack. But there are very few elite athletes. Kudos to you if you are one of those — just don’t swagger.

You can always choose to walk off the course. Quitting is always an option. We like to say “Never quit!” — but people quit things all the time. The question is: did you stop and evaluate why you quit? And how you’re not going to quit next time? Side Note: I’m not saying quitting is the best option. But sometimes it is the only option. Sometimes we do quit. Let’s not shame ourselves about that.

When you face that “I can’t do it” moment, figure out if there’s some “haven’t thought of it yet” way that you can do it. Maybe it’s not about doing it — whatever it is — all by yourself. Maybe you run the course or tackle the challenge with a team. Maybe you ask a stranger who is sitting on top of the wooden wall for a hand up. They’ve figured out a way to get where you want to be. Ask them how they did it.

In Your Words: When it comes to Mudders or Spartan Races, are you a participant or a spectator? And how have you altered difficulties or altered yourself to conquer an obstacle?

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  1. September 10, 2015, 6:47 am   /  Reply

    What a great post! So, I’ve always been fascinated by the Tough Mudder, but I don’t think I’ll ever participate in it. If one of the kids wants to, I’ll cheer them on loud and strong. 🙂

    And when it comes to facing difficulties, I tend to not be a person who quits. When I have considered this option, I talk with trusted friends about it. They usually help me see things from a fresh perspective. This usually helps me see how to overcome the difficulty.

    • September 10, 2015, 1:30 pm   /  Reply

      Friends, a.k.a. teammates, are terrific in helping me figure out how to alter myself or alter a difficulty when I’m faicng an obstacle!

  2. September 10, 2015, 9:29 am   /  Reply

    I saw a bit more mud (mixed with other things) than I wanted, to be able to fully enjoy these..

    I really don’t know what I am; the philosophical framework that was the substructure to my persona has gotten shaky of late.

    I’m still here.It’s not a proclamation, nor is there anything defiant or self-consciously heroic there. I’ve just very tired, and I am still here.

    • September 10, 2015, 1:30 pm   /  Reply

      You are still here.
      That’s the truth.
      And I am thankful.

      • September 10, 2015, 5:11 pm   /  Reply

        And still here now. Most frightening day yet – left me in tears.

        • September 10, 2015, 8:37 pm   /  Reply

          Oh, Andrew. Praying for you.

  3. September 10, 2015, 7:53 pm   /  Reply

    That’s a tough question, Beth. I guess I do whatever gets me through, whether that’s altering the situation or myself.

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