We all consider EAS (Extreme Sports, Adventure Sports & Survival Sports) as an adrenalin activity relevant only for thrill seekers. However, not many of us are aware that these sports have long-term benefits associated which extends to professional & personal life. All these activities require loads of physical, mental & psychological perseverance. What differentiates them from other regular sports is the nature & degree of risk associated and thats where it brings in immense benefits.
Following are the benefits associated with the regular indulgence in EAS:
1. Learn to respond to tough & unfavorable situations: There is a well-known phrase "Pain Is Inevitable; Suffering is Optional". A constant challenge for the millennial generation, as highlighted by Simon Sneak, is that this generation hasn't accepted the fact that "Life was never easy and will never be easy". What differentiates winners from others is the fact that winners know that they have a choice to respond to tough situations. EAS takes us through the pain every time we indulge in it. Every moment can be a painful moment. But to continue in the game, we need to choose how to respond to the situation. Regular practice in EAS makes us mentally resilient. When we are confronted with crisis situations in real life, we are more equipped to respond it in the right way.
2. Learning to Accept as life unfolds: We never know how things might turn out during EAS. We might slip and break our leg, we might run out of food during a trek, or we are out in the sea and suddenly there is a cyclone. We need to learn to accept the uncertainty that life throws at us. To remain in the game, we constantly need to tell ourselves, “don’t run or get scared, accept it, don’t try to fight it, learn to adapt". If we remain calm, we will find that we are still alive. In real life scenarios especially in corporate roles, we have to bring ourself into awareness of this fact and realize that we are not dying; we are just experiencing something out of our comfort zone. And if we don’t panic or try to escape the feeling, everything will remain as it is, and eventually, we will be able to transcend it.
During survival living training, we are taught that in case we face a threat situation, we need to follow the four steps : 1) Stop 2) Breathe 3) Think 4) Act
The first activity asks us to stop doing everything; which primarily asks us to stop from panicking. Our flight or fight mode needs to be paused.
The second activity asks us to channelize all energies. Breathing allows oxygen to flow to brains thereby allowing our minds to work at full throttle
The third activity asks us to focus on next strategy, to think with a calm and composed mind on how to respond.
The final activity asks us to act based on the action plan.
3. Psychological Strength: There is an old saying "do something every day that scares you". Well, pursuing EAS regularly pushes us into our scare zone and we become psychologically stronger. This also helps us in overcoming our fears, and, fear is the biggest obstacle in one's success.
4. Managing "Negative thoughts": We are always surrounded by negative thoughts in life. Most of them are generally irrational fears and worries about own survival. We can learn to better work with these thoughts by putting ourselves in situations that generate these thoughts. As EAS involves a continuous threat to life, negative thoughts are generated constantly. Repetitive exposure to negative thoughts and overcoming them on each and every occasion helps us to master our mind, thereby helps in managing negative thoughts in a better way.
5.Putting oneself in demanding situations: Many times, we miss success because we never put ourselves in demanding positions. I have seen many employees having a great potential could not grow because they never pushed themselves beyond their comfort zones, probably because demanding situations scares them. They don't want to take undue pressure because they are not sure of the outcome or they are comfortable in their own zone. EAS puts us in the kind of pressure that will either make or break us. When we pursue EAS regularly, even if it breaks us, over multiple iterations we become stronger and over a long period we come out as a transformed person.
6. Managing the feeling of "worse will happen": Many times we are scared moving forward because we foresee the worst possible scenario happening. In reality, worst never happens most of the times and even if that happens, the outcomes are not to the degree we expect. EAS makes us go through so many worse situations that we are no more scared of worse situations. We gladly accept that the possibility of happening worse is not even 0.01%. Skydiving has killed fewer people than road accidents. Mortality rate while climbing Mt Everest is less than the mortality rate of driving on a highway.
7. Learn to take risks: In corporate life, many times we do not take risks because we are scared. I have heard from many people say "hey I had the same idea but I did not pursue as I was scared to take that risk". Others pursued the idea and they become successful entrepreneurs. IBM was not ready to take the risk of venturing into the unknown desktop market. Steve Jobs went ahead and rest is history. Entrepreneurs take risks not because they are not scared but because they have mastered the art of overcoming the fear of taking the risk. EAS inherently is associated with risks. When we pursue EAS, we constantly keep on moving in a fear zone and slowly we start learning how to train our minds to control fear of taking risks. Fear comes because of uncertainty in future which makes us uncomfortable.Its the mindset to accept the uncomfortable factor (the perspirations and stomach cramps). Once we get tuned to such body and mind environments, our focus moves from avoiding the uncomfortable zone to finding solutions.