Started as a spin-off from a 48-hour endurance event (Death Race) in 2004, Mr. Joe De Sena founded Spartan Race, intended to be a more manageable endurance race for a wider audience. The first Spartan Race event was held in 2010 with roughly 500 competitors running, crawling, jumping and swimming and the competitors had to overcome a variety of obstacles. All finishers received a medal, and prizes were awarded to the top athletes.
And through it all, there were some valuable lessons on leadership and teamwork that can be learned, along with physical and mental challenges.
Lesson 1 - Everyone moves at a different pace: Participants of the race comes in all shapes and sizes, and more importantly at different fitness levels. Some people adapt quickly to the surroundings while some struggles through the harsh terrain and obstacles in front of them. Much like in the corporate world, people will learn, develop and grow at different speeds as well.
Lesson 2 - You are tougher than you think: As quickly as the first obstacle, some participants were unsure that they would be able to get over the wall, and started to doubt their ability to finish the race – but everyone eventually learn that they can overcome more than they think when they are determined to succeed and act to achieve their goals.
Lesson 3 - Compete less and encourage more: It was heartening to hear people around us who were total strangers, sharing encouragements along the way, and helping fellow participants overcome each of the obstacles. “You can do it” and “Not far now!” can be powerful motivators, whether on a race course or in an office.
Lesson 4 - Refresh yourself along the way: There were water stations at every kilometer or two where volunteers offered water to the participants, but not everyone grabbed the cups. Later in the race, you saw many of those people cramping or off to the side, camped out at the next water station and drinking to try and make up for their dehydration. The same thing happens on teams that do not celebrate along the way – recognition is the refreshing fuel that keeps your people going through difficult times.
Lesson 5 - Real training takes more than a day or two: Just like getting in shape takes more than one training before the actual race, one needs to invest time in consistently doing what’s important at work, that includes maintaining that focus on building better connections and relationships between superiors and subordinates.
Whatever challenges your team is experiencing now, just remember to encourage each other, keep moving, keep your head up, stay refreshed, and be assured that someday soon the “battle scars” you are collecting will benefit you and your cause.
As the saying goes: "Teamwork makes Dream Work". AROO!