Five Lessons Businesses Can Learn From Mud Challenges Like Total Warrior
Friday, September 18th, 2015
It’s a dirty business, but profits could grow by taking inspiration from mucky ordeal
WHERE there’s muck, there’s brass, or so the old adage would have us believe. So what profitable business insights can come from getting down and dirty?
In pursuit of answers to that questions a six-strong team from Holyrood PR got caked in thick, treacly mud and were left gasping for breath and with aches in every muscle. We’re as proud as punch to have recently completed the Total Warrior challenge, a punishing 12k mud run, punctuated with 30 gruelling obstacles.
While it turned out to be great fun and each of us took it on as a personal challenge, I tried never to lose sight of the fact that we were all part of a team, brought together by one business – Holyrood PR.
With that in mind I thought other businesses might appreciate hearing the value that can be taken from an event like this. The kind of insights that might just improve the way a business is run, making happier, more effective and therefore more profitable workplaces.
1 – THE TEAM THAT TRAINS TOGETHER PULLS TOGETHER
We might seem like dafties to have taken on the Total Warrior challenge– but we’re not stupid! From the outset we realised that to tackle this event we’d have to be serious about our preparation. That meant training – and lots of it.
There were evenings when giving up pub and family time to run up hills, climb walls, swing kettlebells or ride training bikes felt like an imposition.
Of course there were some who fell by the wayside and others who need cajoled, badgered and pushed to come along every week. But pretty quickly we knew we had a hardcore of committed individuals. And there quickly developed a shared sense of purpose and endeavour.
Nowhere was it more evident than on the day of Total Warrior itself. Despite the wide differences in age, stamina levels and abilities we stuck together, helping each other and encouraging each other – working as a team.
I believe that has translated positively into the workplace, where the sense of collaboration and teamwork has definitely heightened.
And as a business we’ll be looking very carefully at how professional training – just like physical training – might deliver greater results when it includes a team element as well as individual effort.
2 – RECOGNISE DIFFERENT STRENGTHS
Stripped back, a business is basically a collection of people with different skill sets.
The best businesses are those which achieve the smartest blend, alllowing people to do what they enjoy most.
Yet in the hurly burly of daily business life it is all too easy to lose sight of a person’s strengths and to point them at whichever task or job is most pressing.
In an office many managers fall into the trap of trying to force a peg through an ill-fitting shaped hole. In such cases, the job might not get done properly, but no-one gets hurt.
However, during Total Warrior if you have the wrong person setting the pace, or lifting others over walls, or tasked with reaching the top of an obstacle, then the outcomes are likely to be physically painful for someone. Someone will get hurt.
Which means that taking part in the event is a sharp reminder for anyone in business to take a step back in the workplace and think more carefully about the strengths – and weaknesses – of everyone in a team.
That way you are most likely to have motivated people doing the things they are best at. And nobody gets hurt.
3 – STRIVE TO FIND EXCELLENCE IN DIFFERENT WAYS
This may not be quite what you expect.
We’ve all been brought up on the idea of personal excellence – and how we should strive for it in exam results, in sport and in work. Yet that simply doesn’t work for everyone.
For me the event was a powerful reminder that it is always possible to seek out examples of excellence far beyond the bubble of personal performance.
For example, I was blown away by the organisation of the Total Warrior event – from the layout of the athlete village, to the speed with which participants were processed and the quality of the experience with staff and volunteers.
Beyond that I also couldn’t help marvel at the superb choice of location and the genuinely impressive layout of the course to make the most of the site – including farmers field, lakeside paths, rolling hills, forest walkways and more.
Because it was such a different experience to anything I’d tried before my senses came alive and I found myself looking at everything with fresh eyes. That included the clever technology used to track participants and deliver finishing times in near realtime.
It was a reminder that it’s easy to navigate the world with a closed mind – and that it requires real effort to keep an open and questing attitude.
4 – GIVING FEELS GOOD
As well as being a bit of a mouthful, the term “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)”, has become a business buzz phrase – meaning it has effectively been devalued.
Which is a shame, because the idea of businesses putting something back into communities is a concept most people support.
Yet when managers start droning on about CSR you can see eyes glaze over. Too many businesses pay lip service to the concept – and the words Corporate Social Responsibility are now unlikely to inspire anyone.
However, when members of your team are able to tie a good cause to something they are passionate about – like competing in Total Warrior – the results are very different.
Everyone in our team is proud to have played a party in raising well over £1000 for SSC, a charity which sends deserving kids to a school camp in rural Perthshire, where they enjoy the holiday of a lifetime making friendships that last for years.
It wasn’t just rewarding for the SSC. By involving us in something more than a faceless CSR exercise, we all felt great about it too.
5 – COMMUNICATION IS VITAL
During our weekly sessions our trainer Darren Danagher was constantly chiding us for failing to talk to each other. Often it was simply because we were too out of breath.
But overall Darren was right. We were all too ready to follow his instructions without really thinking or acting as a team. Over the weeks under Darren’s watchful eye that changed.
By the end we were constantly giving each other verbal encouragement and speaking as a group to ensure we finished challenges together and worked as a group, not a loose assembly of individuals.
On the day we never stopped communicating over 12km and 1hr 46mins – and made sure that we came over the finishing line together.
It’s amazing to think that, even as six people training together, it took a specific effort to make sure we were all communicating properly. And we’re a group of professional communicators with experience in charity PR!
Take that lesson back to your business and you’ll find there are huge ways you can improve – whether that simply involves using email less and speaking more – or launching a company intranet or a major public relations campaign.
Find out how your business could benefit from working with the team at our award-winning Edinburgh PR agency with expertise in Charity PR
There may be plenty of other lessons that businesses can learn from a challenge like Total Warrior – not least that the people you work with can do loads more than they ever believed possible.
Find out more about the Holyrood PR team by contacting us.
We’d love to discuss how our experience – in public relations as well as in challenges like Total Warrior! – could benefit your business.
We’re a chatty bunch and you can contact us on 0131 561 2244. Or take a few seconds to fill in the simple form below and we’ll get straight back to you.
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