The 3 Obstacles to Doing Epic Deeds and How to Overcome Them
Here are the three obstacles:
The first obstacle is believing that you are capable of accomplishing something so far beyond everyday life. How do you go from nine-to-five folding-the-laundry life to the belief that you can stand on top of a mountain or be washed over in the adulation of a crowd of adoring fans? The biggest obstacle is the mental shift from, “I’m just an average guy,” to, “I’m destined for greatness.”
The second obstacle is the social one. Doing something grand by necessity puts you on the outskirts of society: if it were commonplace it wouldn’t be epic. The result is a fear of being ostracized. Since humans are social creatures, this is a justifiable concern. The life and people that surround you now, for the most part, exist to support the person you are. They may not support the person you are seeking to become. Nobody wants to become a legend only to lose all their friends in the process.
The third major obstacle arises when you’re neck deep in the hard work itself. You can’t see the horizon and the original goal you set out for. Scary things happen. The risks become very real. You start questioning why you got started in the first place. This nagging uncertainty comes up no matter what you’re doing, and it is the silent killer of countless epic deeds, from Greek myths to writing novels. Finding the tools to overcome it is essential to avoiding a lifetime of false starts.
When you’re in the middle of things, “you have to surround yourself with positive people. You just won’t be as strong as you would be if you surround yourself with positive partners.”
This approach is what made the difference for Ricky. Running for miles and miles across barren, sun-scorched landscapes with no relief in sight, it’s very easy to let the voices in your head get too loud.
Ricky made an effort not to get too focused on his own problems. He told a story about the first time he ran the Sahara in 2010. His luggage had been lost and he was running in shoes that were two sizes too small for him. With skin peeling off his feet, he was feeling really sorry for himself on the morning of the 100K day.
But when he looked out of his tent, he saw that everybody was limping and he realized that all of them were in the same boat.
Instead of focusing on his own problems, he decided to focus on supporting others.
He did this by trying to be a source of encouragement, shoring others up against their own struggles, pushing them at times, or just standing by.
One thing that stood out about Ricky’s mindset was a real sense of perspective. When he used to complain about a run, his wife Jemma would ask: “Is anyone shooting at you? Then you’re fine.” He took that with him into the desert.