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  • Writer's pictureNick Klingensmith

10 Lessons in Life & Business I learned from Obstacle & Endurance Racing

Recently I was asked if my “hobby” of endurance and obstacle course racing was distracting me from my work.

First, it’s not a “hobby.” It’s a lifestyle.

I train for life. Races are just a celebration of my progress.

Second, it’s this lifestyle that encourages me to be the best version of myself. Ever since I first discovered Obstacle Course Racing in 2016, I began a journey of self-improvement.

There are few things that truly feed my spirit, and this is one of them. It’s this lifestyle that allows me to breathe through the worst of life’s challenges while constantly seeking ways to overcome obstacles.

Here are 10 lessons that I learned for business and in life:

1. Your WHY is everything.

My WHY is the same in business as it is in life: to overcome every obstacle and show others how they can too. I am a 4-time cancer survivor; a Type-1 Diabetic; have sleep apnea; 4 herniated discs and a whole host of demons. I live a life that seeks to defy my circumstances and inspire others to do the same – it’s a motivator far more powerful than any contract or paycheck.

2. The 2 most important steps to a successful day are your feet on the floor when your alarm goes off.

Win the morning. Win the day.

It begins with taking action. My day is infinitely better when I get up for my workout. Consistently getting up at the first alarm ensures I am awake, alert and accomplished come Go-Time, not still kicking off the cob webs over morning coffee.

3. Have a plan. Attack the plan.

We all have those days where we aren’t at our best. We may be run down, over tired, stressed out and getting pummeled from negative-self talk. It can be debilitating. Having a plan takes away the control those circumstances have over you. When you attack the plan, there’s nothing to think about. There’s nothing for negative self-talk to influence. There’s just action, one step at a time until I complete my objective.

4. Keep a record of your progress.

In sales, you often don’t get to realize the fruit of your efforts right away. Recording benchmarks and reviewing your activity tells you if you’re on the right path. Trust the process and celebrate your progress.

5. If I don’t fear the burpee, I won’t fear the obstacle.

I’ve learned to confront my fears. You have to ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? If I don’t fear the obstacle, I can overcome it. If you’re prepared for the worst that can happen, nothing can hurt you. Proceed with confidence.

6. I learn to meditate.

Seeking mental toughness, I began a routine that focuses on slow, controlled, deep breathing. While I can’t control situations, these techniques allow me to control my reaction to them. I breathe so that I can pause and process, listen without reacting, and put situations in perspective.

7. Mistakes aren’t fatal; failure isn’t final; and challenges are what you signed up for.

Mistakes are how we learn, and failure is how we improve. The challenges are what make the story a good one.

Sometimes the obstacle is the way.

8. Keep moving forward.

A few years ago, while out on a long run, my blood sugar crashed, and I was miles from home. In the midst of blacking out, I ran, I walked, and I stumbled forward all while repeating out loud, “If you stop here, you die here.”

Regardless of whatever business or life challenges that arise, keep moving forward. Do the next right thing. What’s the alternative? When you’re going through hell, keep going. If you stop, you may die.

9. Do what’s HARD.

Simply put, do the work. Put in the time and effort that others aren’t. Challenge yourself. Even good excuses don’t get results. The more comfort I seek, the more uncomfortable I am. The more discomfort I welcome, the more comfort I find.

Go through the fire, you never know whose path you’re lighting.

10. I can take on anything.

So far, there’s no evidence to the contrary. I don’t define myself by my adversity but rather my triumph over it. I am a 10X Spartan Race Trifecta finisher, a finisher of the Chicago, New York, and 2 Boston Marathons and 2 Spartan Ultra’s.

I am not a diabetic cancer survivor. I am a warrior.

While training for the NYC Marathon:

I injured my ankle, so I taped it up and continued to run.

I broke my foot, so I joined the gym and trained on various cardio equipment.

I aggravated my back injury and could hardly move, so I used the Hand Bike to do cardio!

And on Mile 17, when all hell broke loose, I put one foot in front of the other and gritted my way to the finish.

Time will tell if I will be successful in business, but my success in life is guaranteed.

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