July 18, 2017

Why outdoor discomfort is good for growth

People stand to learn so much from challenging themselves in the outdoors. These experiences make us stronger and increase confidence, with myriad benefits to be gained in other facets of life.

Six lessons gleaned from spending time out of your element with implications for productivity and inspiration at the office

Now, being uncomfortable may scare you, but so does the road to discovering all of the power and goodness inside of you. We need to unleash that power inside of us because we don’t have many opportunities to do this throughout the daily grind of our regular lives.

Don’t fret, there are plenty of outdoor programs that are accessible and ready for you – just don’t put this off as you have those other projects in your inbox.

How do we do this? To name a few ideas: You could sign up today and learn to canoe, book an introduction to hiking course, discover how to stand-up paddle board or get in some rock-climbing action. You’ll be high-fiving yourself and sharing newly gained confidence with others in no time.

We can learn so much from challenging ourselves in the outdoors, which makes us stronger and more confident. It also helps us shape a more inspired life from the situations Mother Nature throws our way.

Here are six tips to consider for a more productive and inspired life. For perspective’s sake, let me take you to the edge during a rock-climbing course to explain why pushing yourself outside of your limits can assist you in your regular life.

When your grip on the rock begins to fail, you’re already freaked out. Your leg is shaking more violently than your favourite cocktail mixer, and a torrent of sweat soaks your athletic wear and blinds you as you search for a better grip. Throwing your arm, your fingers skid into place, safely stuck in a clinging state of mind. Calmness rushes over you, if even for just a second. Your first time rock climbing outside pushed you to the limits. Having to push yourself as never before fills you with new-found confidence , giving you a better vantage point to reflect on your personal and professional challenges.

As with so many people, your work environment may have recently become a stressful atmosphere, leaving you feeling the brunt of its negative effects. That experience rock climbing gave you the strength to stand up and challenge mediocre minds, and to start inspiring others with a positive, can-do attitude. This propelled you to become the positive change, the little spark your company needed.

This feeling wasn’t only making an impression at work. An inner personal growth flourished from putting yourself in uncomfortable situations outside, helping you develop a variety of tools that release the goodness inside of you. This helps you deal with all of life’s challenges. We’re not just talking about the niggling details and tedious responsibilities of our daily lives, but those big mountains we may face in life on the broader spectrum of our relationships, family and personal development.

Real growth comes from the outside, pushing yourself in nature and challenging yourself in ways nothing else in your repetitive, regular life can. Don’t wait. Get outside now, not only for the health benefits, but to develop your own toolbox that will act as a springboard for living your life with confidence and inspiration. Go all in

Just as with rock climbing, don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. Being perched on a rocky cliff does not give you many options but to focus and put 100 per cent of your effort behind each move, so that you make it to the top. Learning to dig deep and apply all of your effort to a project will consistently move the needle in your everyday life. You can’t move forward if you can’t get things done or – in today’s digital world – ship your art. Look around

We need to learn that changing direction is all right and that moving outside of our comfort zone is healthy for us. While rock climbing, this can occur through a variety of scenarios – adapting to changing weather conditions, taking on more degrees of difficulty in your route selection or overcoming deteriorating rock conditions. Unlike responding to text messages, you may not have time to pause and think or procrastinate; you act quickly as survival instincts kick in and take over. We may not realize it, but we face these decisions on a smaller scale on a regular basis.

When you’re outside, you make instant choices when potential risks arise, such as changing ski touring routes based on avalanche conditions or taking another canoe route based on a prediction of stormy weather ahead. This greatly enhances your skill set, giving you the ability to make decisions on the fly and determine major directional changes when needed. Be cold

Sure, you have some uncomfortable situations at work, such as the ego-driven team member who is taking credit for all your work, or communication challenges with one of your colleagues in another city. You will take on different perspective after you reflect on that canoe journey when your boat flipped over in a raging storm. You’ll recall having to quickly erect a makeshift camp while shivering for hours, leading to a sleepless night you will never forget. With that experience top of mind at the office, all other situations will seem much easier to deal with. Plus, you’ll always be grateful for heat and a dry office space. Always be learning

World-class climbers are constantly practising new moves and honing their skills in preparation for their next challenge. Settling is the beginning of death. You have one opportunity to live, so why not learn as much as you can? Stir your mind and soul regularly. Besides, having something to look forward to keeps your head in a progressive state of mind. When you don’t have challenges, worries and stress can fill your head. Your career will benefit from a clear mind. Even if those around you do not recognize it, do it to better yourself. Your future self will thank you for it. Never give up

Put yourself in situations where you have to rely on yourself to slog it out, such as mid-way through a 70-kilometre backpacking trip on the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, in a seemingly never-ending rainstorm. Nothing is dry. Winds whips your eyelids up and down. Yet you still have 35 kilometres to go. You complete the backpacking trip due to your persistence, inner strength and resolve to make each step count. In nature, you have no choice but to continue. We can get too complacent in our daily life; we need to challenge ourselves. Have the tenacity to keep going, constantly creating and honing your skills. Face your fear

How do we do that? First we need to embrace the power it entails. The main ingredient is adrenalin, which gives you that rapid heart rate originally meant to kick in and save us from being eaten in caveman times. The key is to embrace the fear and channel the powerful energy into good.

Positive fear helps you, giving you that lifesaving leap as you are crossing the street and there is a car coming directly at you. Negative fear is when it holds you back from doing something good for yourself, such as trying a new sport or challenging your boss with a different view. Tell fear that you are going to do this, you are going forward. Familiarize yourself with your fear. Trying a new sport outdoors, such as rock climbing, can assist you in a big way by letting you meet your fear head on. This will not only provide you the incredible life confidence you deserve, but also show you how to face your fear.

Accomplishing something you are told you cannot do – by yourself or by others – is good for you in so many ways. We grow most when we face fear.

Executives, educators and humanresources experts contribute to the ongoing Leadership Labs series. Find more articles at tgam.ca/careers.

Getting Outside Grows Us in So Many Ways

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