Tough Mudder TeamworkWhen I signed up for Tough Mudder, I wanted to challenge myself. I had competed in 5-10km races in the past, as well as smaller obstacle courses, but this time I really wanted to test my limits. My plan was to train intensively for 90 days prior to the May event to ensure my strength and endurance were ready for the feat.

However, Tough Mudder is not only a test of your physical fitness, but your mental endurance. Running up and down a ski hill for 10-12 miles while overcoming 28 extreme obstacles on a sub 0°C May morning tests your physical fitness, yes, but it’s more a test of willpower. However, this obstacle course is also designed to encourage teamwork. Everyone is working collectively to get each other to the finish line. It’s not a race; it’s a challenge and every contender is in it together.

Preparation: Setting Goals & Action Plans

When I signed up for the Tough Mudder event, I set certain goals for myself: lift “X” amount, run a pace of “X” minutes per kilometre, lose “X” pounds, drop to a body fat percentage of “X”. I then created an action plan and executed it, which included a detailed exercise routine, nutritional guidelines, and consistent sleeping habits. By working towards incremental gains, I was able to meet my goals and course correct for any targets that needed to be adjusted along the way. When the event arrived, I had no idea what I was about to experience, but by achieving my personal training goals, I felt more confident in my ability to complete the challenge.

What I did not factor in was how much Tough Mudder focuses on teamwork.

Climbing Mountains as a Team

As soon as the whistle sounded, my group turned into a committed team. I had trained to overcome each obstacle independently, but the teamwork was exhilarating and contagious. Each obstacle was designed to be easier with the help of others: tall walls that others could pull you up over, large mud pits that others can push and pull you out of, and steep hills that are made flatter with each joke and greeting from a fellow participant. As I helped my group through each obstacle and they did the same for me, my mindset shifted from being a “lone wolf” to part of a team and I found myself staying at obstacles to help others. We were able to leverage the strengths of each other throughout the race instead of working around our own weaknesses. By the end of the course, I had made new friends and felt a great sense of achievement.

If you have not experienced an event like Tough Mudder, I highly recommend it. The above video shows some highlights from the 2013 Tough Mudder Toronto event (I actually made the video at the 1:56 mark). I have completed the course twice and am signed up for the 2015 event in August. The teamwork is addictive and the sense of accomplishment when you cross the finish line is something you can celebrate with everyone that becomes a Tough Mudder with you.

Successful Businesses Need Exceptional Teams

What I learned from events like Tough Mudder is that you can set personal goals and expectations, but never underestimate the power of teamwork in everything that you do. This can certainly be applied to the business world as well. An exceptional business needs a strong team; everyone knows their roles and can trust and grow from each other. Even the strongest leaders are not perfect; having a strong team fills in the talent gaps and ensures that the business is balanced and built to succeed.

When Mentor Works sits down with business owners, we take a look at their business structure and workforce. Once we have determined their talent gaps, we can leverage Canadian government funding to help improve the business’ workforce through both hiring grants and training incentives, such as the Canada-Ontario Job Grant $10K training grant. If you’re interested in government programs designed to support your hiring and training activities, please feel free to register for an upcoming Canadian business funding workshop/webinar.

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Chris holds an Honours B.Comm at the University of Guelph, Majoring in Marketing Management. As Director of Client Management & Development at Mentor Works, Chris specializes in strategic planning through customized funding strategies. Add to your Google+ Circles and follow @ChrisCasemore on Twitter.

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