Episode 161 — Joe De Sena — The Spartan Mindset: Embracing Discomfort and Unleashing Mental Toughness
It’s no secret that human beings enjoy comfort. We enjoy snuggling up on the couch, having our meals delivered to our doorsteps, and sleeping in instead of waking up at the crack of dawn on a cold, rainy morning.
But are we really supposed to be this comfortable? Wouldn’t making things harder and more challenging be a motivator for us to earn some of life’s most precious gifts?
That’s what Joe De Sena, Founder of the Spartan Race, is on a mission to prove. He believes that if we want to truly enjoy every single morsel of life, we have to work hard and persevere in uncomfortable situations to make that happen.
On this episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast, Joe and Michael sit down to discuss:
- How personal accountability plays a major role in your success
- How to cultivate a mindset of resilience
- Why doing hard things is the secret to happiness
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A human being’s main motivator. “The number one motivator for a human being is not sex, not drugs, not rock and roll, not food. The number one motivator for a human being is the avoidance of discomfort. That’s legacy, hardware, and software that’s kept us alive on this planet. We want to make sure we won’t go out and freeze to death, sweat to death, or fall off a cliff. We avoid discomfort at all costs. The brain senses discomfort and says, ‘Oh, time out. Relax. Check your phone. Don’t go do that workout. Drink your coffee. Don’t go outside. It’s raining.’ We don’t even know that’s happening, and so our citizens, the folks around us in our communities, sell us stuff that helps us potentially avoid discomfort, right? Six-minute abs, five-minute abs, four-minute abs, or chocolate cake that’s not going to get you fat. We fear being uncomfortable the most.”
We’re tough, and then we’re not. “We are all really tough at birth — and then we get coddled. We get told what we can and can’t do. We get fed in our little cages in our zoo with climate controlled cages and food on demand. How the hell would we be practicing being tough? We don’t need to do anything. We don’t have to hunt an animal. We don’t have to walk to get to a phone. We don’t have to do anything. How would we possibly be practicing being tough? Yet we practice cooking. We practice playing the piano. We practice academics. But we don’t practice being tough — and then we’re expected in life when the sh*t hits the fan and everything’s up against us and we’re facing obstacles, we’re expected to perform. But you’ve been sitting in your cage in the zoo. You haven’t done anything hard. How would you possibly perform when you face an obstacle?”
Earn life’s greatest gifts. “When I go to bed, I giggle in bed. As soon as I get horizontal, I giggle. It’s a funny response, but the reason I giggle is because when I reflect on it, I worked so hard, I’m so tired that I’m so happy to be laying down. So if you’re laying down at night and you can’t get to bed and you’re tossing and turning, you didn’t push hard enough. Think about when a child eats a meal and they’re complaining about the broccoli. They’re not hungry enough. They didn’t earn that meal because if they’re hungry, they’ll eat their fingers. I know I’ve been there. You need to earn these tremendous gifts we get in life.”
How to get serious about your health. “The only way to achieve optimal health — whether it’s to get ready for a race, for your health, or ready for anything — you have to sign up for something hard first which then demands your excellence. When you sign up for something instead of taking the time to get in shape, it’ll force you to go to bed early, to wake up early, to put down the cookie, and to not drink. If you do it the other way around, you’ll never get in shape because you would’ve been in shape already, but you’re not because you don’t take it seriously. None of us take it seriously, but as soon as there’s a date on the calendar, you get serious.”
Encourage the obstacles. “The biggest threat to our children is a six-car garage. It’s that over-indulgence, that ability to be complacent. Our job as parents is not only to make the children become appealing and fun to be around, but also resilient and have a ready-for-anything attitude. And it’s hard. Even a person like me who knows it, and my wife and I set out to do it, we still find ourselves — without even knowing and reflecting back on it — removing obstacles. Instead, we should be putting obstacles in front of the kids. We should be making it harder. I’m pretty hardcore relative to other parents, but I still see the mistakes.”
What does being a game changer mean to you? “Game changers are people who aren’t afraid to think differently and get outside their comfort zones. Just because somebody has done it one way forever doesn’t mean we can’t do it a different way.”
RESOURCES & REFERENCES
Sir Edmund Hillary
Tough Mudder Event
The Transcendence Run
Saks Fifth Avenue