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What is tough?

When we think of the toughest, ready for anything humans our minds generally go to the military special forces

Currently with the fame of guys like Jocko and Goggins, the SEALS are very much in the limelight.

But lets not forget the British forces that started the whole SF thing:

A key attribute that is tested in selecting individuals to join these units is their endurance

This endurance goes beyond physical

It's, as the TV ads for the Royal Marines tell us, it's a state of mind

An attitude

This same attitude can be seen in many of the emergency service personnel, Police, Fire, Nursing etc It can be seen in extreme sports folk, and in many endurance athletes

I've always been interested in if you can develop it.

The physical training is simple. Develop basic strength, especially in the deadlift and the overhead press Develop muscular endurance, things like pull ups and push ups especially, but Kettlebell Snatches and Swings too And get out in nature as often as possible, walking, running, swimming and cycling.

The key though is in developing that mindset. A mindset that is embodied by the mantra:

"Hope for the best, prepare for the worst"

So can you still deadlift after running 10K? Can you tolerate the rain? The cold? The heat? If you get injured, can you still work out how you can train?

Can you be in the most miserable of circumstances and maintain your sense of humour?

Can you set short, mini goals, breaking up the big task into manageable chunks?

Can you take satisfaction from the effort, not the necessarily the reward?

Can you remain unsatisfied, always wanting to be better, but not to the extreme where it becomes detrimental to do so?

Can you challenge yourself mentally, psychologically as well as physically?

Can you find like minded people to bounce off?

If you can, then maybe you are that tough individual.

If you can work through these points and start ticking them off, then maybe you can become that tough individual.

The idea of challenging your own psychology is fascinating to me as this is where I feel there is most room for most people to improve.

Getting a pull up or building your deadlift are fairly simple But having your opinions, your beliefs challenged, that's way harder for most people.

I guess it's because we can progress a deadlift in such miniscule increments, we can get stronger in such a sneaky way, but we can't do that with a belief system.

The way around this, at least in my mind, is that community idea. But a community that laughs at itself, that pushes everyone to improve but at the same time laughs at takes the piss out of everyone as they go.

If ever there was a common ground across all the tough communities I've come across it was this humour. When work needed done, they work. When someone fell behind, they reached back for them When someone got ahead, they waited and encouraged the rest And every person in the community, no matter what was giving and taking a slagging.

Does toughness lie in laughing at yourself?

Like the SAS/SBS lads did by baking those cakes?

It's a good question isn't it?


Dave Hedges

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