With less than a week to go before the the debut of Tough Mudder in China, Team Olive Branch is ready to take to the obstacle course and test what they’re made of.

It’s only fitting that this week’s blog post be centered around being ‘tough’.

So what does it mean to be tough anyways?

From Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

physically and emotionally strong : able to do hard work, to deal with harsh conditions, etc.

Sounds exactly what our team members need for this event!

The physically strong part is the simple part.  Come out to enough training sessions and your body will adapt and become stronger.

But how do you make yourself emotionally strong?

Or rather, how do you control your emotions so you can continue to perform at a high level?

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Now this starts to sound more and more like mental toughness.

I’ve written before on mental toughness when I gave training to the brave warriors of White Collar Boxing.  With only 3 months of training, participants of Brawl on the Bund had to go from zero boxing experience to squaring off with an opponent in a ring set out to destroy them and in front of a live audience with big cameras and lights constantly harassing them.


How do you stay emotionally strong in that situation!?!

Refer to previous blogs here if you’re curious how you can deal with that type of emotional stress:

Mental Toughness – Part 1 of 5
How to Reach Your Untapped Potential – Mental Toughness – Part 2 of 5
Fear Management – Mental Toughness – Part 3a of 5
Fear Management – Mental Toughness – Part 3b of 5
Pain Tolerance – Mental Toughness – Part 4 of 5
Maintaining Form While Under Stress – Mental Toughness – Part 5 of 5

As for you Olive Branch Tough Mudders, here are some additional tips summarized from the awesome Eric Barker and published in Time magazine to help you prepare for Sunday’s event!

1.  Be an optimist.

When facing a challenge, it’s quite easy to think to yourself, “I can’t do it.  It’s too long and hard.  I’m just going to give up.”  Instead, talk positively to yourself, “This part of the course is challenging, but once I work through it, I’ll have a nice long stretch before the next one.  The discomfort is only temporary.  It’s not so bad.”

This simple change in perspective may seem trivial, but when you’re faced with a challenge and your result is sitting right on the fence, having that positive mindset will tip you in the favor of success.

2.  Resist catastrophic thinking.

This point ties in with the previous point in that you don’t want to set off your panic button by imagining the end of the world scenarios.  No, if you can’t complete a certain obstacle, the world is not going to laugh and make fun of you.  If you can’t climb that wall because it’s just too slippery, you won’t be labelled a failure.  There is nothing to feel ashamed.  It’s not a big deal.  Perhaps, climbing walls is not your thing, but diving into an ice bath is nothing for you.

Just keep trucking.

3.  Practice gratitude and generosity.

This final point may seem a bit odd at first as being grateful and generous doesn’t seem to have any relevance to staying mentally tough.

But it is exactly the act of giving, of thinking of others instead of yourself that takes you outside of yourself and into others.  Your actions become more meaningful as it is no longer about yourself.  Your resilience goes up as you now serve a higher purpose and this gives your mental toughness a huge boost.

This is why when you see Tough Mudders running the course, everyone is always helping each other to complete the obstacles.  It’s a very natural and human behavior to help out a fellow participant even if he/she is not on your team.  Tough Mudder even states on their website that they are not a competition or a race, but a challenge.

We are challenging ourselves physically and mentally in this event because we all want to be more than what our day-to-day grind presents us.


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