Saying you don’t have anything left is easy. Saying you can’t go on is bullshit. Don’t you want to know what your limitations are? And that when you hit that wall, you can actually break through it and win?
When I got out of the army I really missed the feeling of testing myself. I remember very clearly how I reacted after a particularly harsh military exercise we had at the beginning of winter. It was the end of our Bootcamp and we were sifting out who wanted to be there and thus serve in international operations in Kosovo, or who rather not.
We had been given very little food, told to march for ungodly long periods of time, and slept very poorly. I remember waking up in a small puddle in the tent as we’d set up shop on a marsh. Brilliant. And seeing it was the beginning of winter the temperature was about 0 degrees Celsius – the absolute worst temperature to work in as you’re always cold and wet.
This, coupled with little sleep left me completely out of it at times. When you haven’t slept for a while you begin to see things. Your mind plays tricks on you, and there is no way to prepare for that. When we at one point, through the week-long exercise, where given live ammunition to fire on light sticks (I didn’t know they were light sticks at the time of shooting) I swear on all things holy I have absolutely no idea what I shot at, If I hit anything or what my surroundings where. We actually got praise for our good shooting. To this day I have no idea how that was even possible.
Nearing what we guessed was the end of the exercise, our Captain congratulated us in coming in and completing the mud run. I was so exhausted I could barely stand. I was tired, hungry, pissed off, and in desperate need of sleep. It was so extremely satisfying seeing a superior giving us compliments on a well-executed run. All I could think of was my bed.
So when our Captain said, “Now you only have to get through the obstacle course carrying all your water rations” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Surely he was joking? I actually asked him if he was serious. A question that in any other circumstance would justify a harsh reprimand, but I think he saw a sorry excuse for a human being and looked me in my eyes and told me we were almost there.
These tests of pure willpower are incredibly valuable. You have no idea what you are capable of before you actually test yourself.
The reason why these experiences are an amazing asset to have is that in all circumstances if you have the ability to see things in perspective and for what they really are, you can make clear decisions. Decisions that are not affected by fear, or taken out of proportion. You’ve been through worse, and see this for what it is. A cool, collected leader is someone everyone can get behind.
Fighting, and training with people with an equal passion to excel and fight gives you an understanding of your own physical and mental limitations. I remember getting ready for a fight, walking around at 83 kilograms, and being manhandled in the last rounds of an endless sparring session against one of our best 60KG guys, which broke me instantly. I, a middleweight being tossed around by a bantamweight sent me deep down a hole of self-doubt I wasn’t prepared for. But being able to take the pain, and try harder, when there is NOTHING left, that’s when the magic happens.
Or better put, by the G.O.A.T himself, Mr Muhammad Ali:
“I don’t count my sit-ups; I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count.”
Are mergers, or other organizational changes hard to deal with? Are you not hitting your targets? Does it seem hopeless, difficult and tiresome? Persevere and overcome. Work through it. Because you can deal with it. Trust me. You can.