Last Friday night I ran my first charity event. For 13 long hours, a mate and I pushed a 100kg sled from 7pm to 8am the next morning.
We sweat, we swore and we raised over $10,500 for Gotcha4Life.
Photo credit: Matt Bates
There are a few reasons Aidan and I decided to run this event. Both of us have family and friends who have mental illnesses and we have experienced first hand the devastating effects it can have. We've gone down the rabbit hole of men's health, attending Tomorrow Man events and completing a Mental First Aid Certification. As we kept digging into the suicide and depression rates we were shocked to find out how prevalent it is and even more shocked at how no one talks about it.
We needed to do something.
We expected it to be hard and we hoped it would cause a little ripple.
What we didn't expect is how large the event grew. Each passing week it expanded into new networks, making the front page of the Manly Daily newspaper and generating more awareness than we ever could have dreamed.
The event taught me a lot about myself, physically and mentally pushing close to breaking point and coming out the other side a stronger man.
Now it's done, I can reflect back at what made it possible.
1. You are capable of much more than you believe
Originally, we set the bar of a 12-hour sled push. That's a bloody tough effort and we trained hard for it, believing 12 hours would be our absolute limit.
Until the week before...
During our last training session, I posed the question to Aidan, "Why is 12 our limit?"
He looked back at me, "It's not."
So we pushed for 13 hours instead.
What our limits are today don’t have to be what our limits are tomorrow if we decide to change them.
A year ago I never thought I could accomplish this. I would have laughed if someone asked me to do it. Not a chance. Then I did it.
You are capable of so much more than you believe.
2. Pain and discomfort are actually positive things
I learned more about myself during the process of this event than all of my years combined.
By putting myself through immense physical, mental and emotional discomfort I adopted a new perspective on life. Things that were hard before aren't so hard now by comparison. The short-term pain has led to a positive return 100x more than what I put in.
With pain comes calluses. You learn from experiences and adapt to become a stronger you. From now on I'll be searching for these discomforts, leaning into them and continuing down this path.
3. Don't try and go
If you’d asked me to push a sled for even 2 hours this time last year I would have laughed. As for 13 hours? Forget about it!
Even though I proved I’m capable to push it this long, I know that if I was trying to do it alone something would have given out - likely mentally over physically.
My brain was more like a roast potato than an actual human brain in the last few hours. The only thing that kept me going were the people supporting me. There were even three magnificent people who stayed the whole night in the gym and watched us push the sled.
Us humans are social creatures and thrive off social support. I won't be trying to complete anything challenging without a backup squad in my corner motivating me, keeping me accountable and providing a shoulder to lean on.
4. It starts and ends with
"This is easy."
Three words which got me through the gruelling hours.
Every time I heard myself saying something negative like 'this is hard', 'I'm tired' or 'my feet hurt' I quickly reversed it. It's not that hard. People have gone through wars. People run ultra-marathons. People go through mental anguish every single day. This isn't hard. I can keep going.
I kept saying these things, reminding myself of why I'm pushing. It's bigger than me. It doesn't matter if it's hard. I'm trying to impact lives here. I can keep going.
If you say it's hard, then of course, it's going to be hard. Words have power, so use them wisely.
The things you tell yourself tend to be what you believe and what plays out in your actions. If you're going through a challenge, positive self-talk should be in your repertoire.
5. Chunk it down into
One. Lap. At. A. Time.
That's all I needed to do. Push the sled from this end to that end. It doesn't matter how long I've already been pushing or how far I still have to go. The only important thing is what's happening right here, right now.
The same goes for anything difficult in life. Progress comes from consistency, one hour at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time. You move forward taking small steps which over time lead to major leaps.
The speed of movement doesn't matter, as long as tonight you go to sleep further along the path than where you were when you woke up.
Bonus learning: Coming from a
place of service
This event had special meaning to me. As a man of relative wellness, I find it's my responsibility to help those who aren't well. And if I ever find myself unwell I know they'll return the favour.
Pushing this sled for others, instead of just for myself, made the 13 hours fly by.
I know for a fact I'll continue doing charity work. It's rewarding and immediately satisfying to see the impact you're able to make.
Keep your eyes peeled for what's next...