We all have a superpower. My wife Courtney's superpower is making others feel comfortable. She’s a pro. It doesn’t matter if she’s meeting someone for the first time or the fifth time, her smile and kindness make anyone feel welcome (which is sort of ironic, because my superpower is nearly the opposite). My superpower is all about making people uncomfortable. I have a knack for pushing people to do things that they never thought were possible: cold showers, ice baths, hikes up and down mountains, barbed wire crawls, weight vested burpees, and scavenger hunts in blizzards. If it’s physical and a tad maniacal, I’ve probably gotten someone to do it.
While shooting my CNBC show, No Retreat: Business Bootcamp, one of the production designers made the comment, “I don’t know how you get people to do whatever you say!” The truth is that I’m not so sure myself, but it got me thinking more about what makes people willing to do the crazy things that I ask of them. Here’s what I landed on.
How Does Spartan CEO Joe De Sena Get People Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable?
People Want to Be Pushed
We live in a crazy comfortable world right now. I know that the pandemic was tough, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that our lives have been made substantially easier by technological advances, work flexibility, and delivery services. And do you know what I’ve noticed? People want a challenge. They crave it.
We saw a massive interest in Spartan during the pandemic. Our website traffic was up substantially and customers were desperate for races to return. They wanted somewhere to put their cooped-up energy, and we couldn't wait to be their dumping ground. Humans aren’t meant to be comfortable all of the time. When kept sheltered and sedentary for too long, our muscles atrophy, our minds slow down, and our optimism wanes. We may not like getting out of our comfort zones at first, but as soon as those adrenaline and dopamine rushes kick in, we realize the benefits.
People Need Data Points for Greatness
One piece of advice that I give people is that you have to have great stories to tell. You can say a lot of things about me, but one thing you’ll never be able to say is that I’m boring. I have a crazy story for nearly everything. How? Because I’ve done a lot of crazy shit and put myself in wild situations.
While these stories always become great entertainment at social events, they’re important to me for a different reason. Each story that I tell is a data point of resilience, grit, courage, or perseverance. People need more of these. We all need more of these! We need as many as we can get, because life is always going to throw mud in your direction. You need to be able to pull from past experiences to say, I’ve dealt with this shit before, so let’s do this!
People Need Someone to Believe They Can
The first rule in my most recent book, 10 Rules for Resilience: Mental Toughness for Families, is "You Can’t Until You Can." Dr. Lara Pence, my co-author and expert team member on No Retreat: Business Bootcamp, was adamant that we begin the book with belief systems, because we ALL have them. Every single person that I’ve brought to the farm and every business that I’ve worked with has a belief system. What separates the winners from the quitters is whether or not this belief system is defined by can’ts or cans. People need to believe that they can, and they need cheerleaders beside them.
I may not be the most enthusiastic supporter of all time. I don’t have pom-poms and my verbal support is limited at best. But the single gesture of me asking someone to do something indicates that I believe that they can. And people feel that. I don’t care how much confidence you have, if you have other people supporting your efforts, you’ll be more likely to achieve. Period.
I know that my superpower is unique, but isn’t that what superpowers are supposed to be? I may not be slinging spiderwebs, throwing around circular shields, or making people feel comfortable (thank you, Court!), but I do know that there’s a place for my superpower in our world right now. Do you know your superpower? It might just be doing tough shit.