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How and why you should bulletproof your mindset

How and why you should bulletproof your mindset..

This photo was taken at the True Grit 24hr Enduro in 2022. I had been carrying this log for about 6 hours at this point, having decided to set myself the challenge of taking this thing through a complete lap of their 11km course. The log weighed around 44kg and I took it through almost every obstacle, unless it was deemed too unsafe to do so. It went over all the nets, the rope traverse and over almost every wall. I had set up a system with carabiners and heavy duty towing slings to ensure I didn’t kill myself, another athlete or damage one of TG’s fine obstacles. I left with the log at 3am. Anyone who has run a 24hr obstacle course knows that this part of the night is tough. All of your body’s systems are telling you to sleep, you’re tired, you’ve been smashing yourself for a good 13 hours and most of your muscles are starting to hurt. The course is as deserted as it will get, so you’re going out there to deal with the pain alone. I still think about this often, I still remember how rough some of it was, how unbearable the burning was in my shoulders after km’s of carrying this log in every position I could think of. I think about it when I’m facing difficulties that seem impossible for me to overcome and that’s exactly why I did it. I was chasing some Post Traumatic Growth. Adversity is what makes us stronger, by overcoming hardship we build our resilience. This is why the older you get the more able you are to deal with life’s disasters. You’ve just faced more of them, walked the paths of grief before.

A teenager who has grown up without any major discomfort however will be in trouble when the shit hits the fan, they just haven’t developed the tool kit to handle the difficulties when they come. Understand it’s a sweet spot, sort of like exercising. If your workouts aren’t tough enough you won’t adapt and improve, if they are too hard you’ll get injured. Not enough trauma and the mind is fragile, too much trauma and the mind can break. There’s a hormetic level of adversity that proves to be good for us.

If facing hardship is how you build resilience, it seems like complete insanity to me to just wait until some comes your way. So over time I’ve created a little system to help me bulletproof my own mind. I try to face my hardest challenges on my own terms, when I choose to face them. My strategy is setting myself tasks that are so stupid that any difficulties life throws my way seem easy in comparison. By putting myself through difficult things by choice, I give myself a reference point for my pain. I know the shit I’ve made myself endure, so when something happens that I didn’t see coming, I’ve developed the self efficacy to know that I can handle it. I also reframe stress as something that is building me up instead of breaking me down, I view it as a challenge and sometimes your mindset on something makes all the difference. This isn’t completely foolproof, but for the most part is served me pretty damn well. Some of you will know that I haven’t always managed my life very well. Go back 7 years or so and I was a bit of a fucking disaster.

All sorts of issues with drugs, alcohol and the way I was living my life in my twenties put me on suicide watch in hospital on more than one occasion before getting into fitness.

I got real close to not being with us more than once and I’ve gotten way better at realising when I’m on the slippery slope of my own destruction over time. I’ve learnt how to prioritise and manage my own mental health. (Message me if you’re struggling with your own mental health, I’m always available to anyone who wants to chat about this stuff) I can tell you that if I hadn’t done all of this personal work for years prior to the pandemic, then I probably wouldn’t have gotten through it. I might have become a statistic like so many others unfortunately did, I don’t think I would have been strong enough, I think I might have tapped out. But I’ve come a long way since then and now, I manage things better. Much better.

I’ve got a purpose.

I’ve also got some shit I want to get done, some lofty goals. Some goals that I realised I haven’t been doing a very good job of fulfilling recently. I let myself fall off track. Some things went against me physically and mentally over the last few months and I did nothing to slow the bad momentum. Before I knew it I was on my back looking upwards at a hill I had just fallen down. I wanted to quit. I seriously considered it. I considered walking away from my business, changing my path. I was just done for a minute. For a few months it was quite the crisis.

Then a switch flicked and I remembered all the bullshit I’ve crawled over to get here and I realised that somehow I had let my mindset slip. I remembered carrying the log, the runs in my armour, the chafe on my speedo runs, the goals I have ticked off, the mountains I’ve climbed.

I realise that I had managed to turn myself into a victim. That life was just happening to me, I was no longer making it happen.

So I took the reins back.

I got my exercise back in line, my nutrition, my state of mind. I fixed my sleep, I stopped numbing myself with distractions. The effect of just doing the things I know to work over and over were like magic. The depressive fog lifted almost immediately, the world was brighter. Consistency is where the results come but often all you have to do is get the ball rolling in the right direction and let the wave sweep you up. Pushing a car is hardest at the beginning but once you get it moving, the task is far easier. This is the same for almost anything you are trying to get done. You just need to turn up, then turn up again and again.

A few weeks of doing the right stuff and it’s my new normal. I have more energy, I feel better and I’m probably a whole lot nicer to be around.

I just had to remember why I chose the path I’m on and get back on it. See, most of the things I want to accomplish just involve me not quitting. This is probably the same for most of your goals too.

You might have had vastly different life experiences to me, your values might be completely different and you might not care about something stupid like running in speedos, But I’m sure at some point in your life, you’ve quit something.

You’ve quit something because it got hard or maybe you just got bored. At that moment a dream might have died. You’ll never know how close you were to your goal either, sometimes success happens fast. You keep grinding then all of a sudden things just work.

It happened to me enough times that I decided to make sure it wouldn’t happen again and that’s why I carry logs and all manner of other insane shit that you guys witness.

This is just what works for me though, doing difficult things doesn’t even need to be physical, it just needs to be hard for YOU. It might be committing to yourself to turn up every single day to the guitar practice that you are trying to do. It has to be something tough, that you stick to over time. The consistency will build discipline in your mind that will spill over to other things you do.

Eventually you want to tackle all things with that same level of discipline. Watch things start to improve then ;)

For me, physical challenges keep me on the path and that’s valuable because I need to get shit done, so I can keep making progress towards my purpose and my dreams. I need that discipline sharped regularly. I need to keep turning up at work every day, no matter how many times a product fails or I have to cancel an event, a great client finishes up or a few years of racing gets cancelled due to a you know what. I need to keep levelling myself up mentally and physically, no matter how much easier and enticing the many paths of distraction look. I need to work on my personal relationships with family, my friends and my partner, knowing that people can be messy and we won’t all always agree. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep my head down on this path I’m on and do everything I can to get to my goals, even when things don’t go to plan. Winston Churchill said that ‘Success is moving from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm’ and he knew a fair bit about shit going sideways.

It doesn’t matter what I’m trying to accomplish, If I have a good plan and I stick with it, I WILL get there eventually.

As long as I don’t ever quit, I can’t fail. You can’t either.

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