Gathering your own first OCR team can be the ultimate test of your leadership skills. However, from my own experience, I think that it can be a good practice of said skills, it can boost camaraderie and lead to a memorable experience. Having people connect in this way tests everyone’s grit and strengthens their ability to deal with problems. If you wish to find out who your true friends are – take them to the trenches. Notably even SEAL trainers during extreme training situations look for outstanding people who care for others and express the key values needed to go further together.
There are two questions a man must ask himself: The first is ‘Where am I going?’ and the second is ‘Who will go with me?’ If you ever get these questions in the wrong order you are in trouble.
Not that long ago gathering a team was a big struggle, because I had little to no experience to call on people for such insanity. However, team Hadouken has grown from merely a few players to 23 people for our next race. In this article I will cover the specific steps to consider and implement in order to gather your first obstacle-racing tribe.
1. Find a path and only then someone to join you
Professor and philosopher Sam Keen in his book about manhood and how to be a better man, ‘Fire in the Belly‘, states: “There are two questions a man (or a woman for that matter) must ask himself: The first is ‘Where am I going?’ and the second is ‘Who will go with me?’ If you ever get these questions in the wrong order you are in trouble.”. This idea might seem like the opposite of what you should do to attract people to join your cause. However, following it leads to better energy and results that are worth more than those of a goal driven leader who will insist on racing no matter what. If you show doubt and wait for the last moment to commit to the race whilst trying to persuade other people to join, chances are no one will hop on that ‘unstable boat’ one could call a plan. Therefore commit first and then allow people who like your vision join you.
2. Don’t judge and invite everyone who displays interest
If your goal is to overcome obstacle and not compete for a title, invite as many people as possible without dismissing them or falling prey to any sort of prejudice. Chances are this race will change any person’s life for the better, no matter how weak or strong, big or small they are, nor whether they can run or walk. The point here is to gather people with the attitude and persistence level that matches yours. This might be obvious, but it is never obvious enough – in the field every person enters ‘the zone’, a complete autopilot nigh on unpredictable leading to conflicting mental states, grit coming into focus and more.
Show them the good stuff, tell them about your experiences and how they impacted your life, and especially try to relate to them and see this challenge from their standpoint. Most people might think you’re a lunatic, but again – everyone is a little bit of a lunatic and some might just want to embrace that.
What worked for me specifically was producing some media and 1st person action videos showing how epic and extraordinary races can get. Don’t have own examples? Don’t worry – Youtube and other corners of the internet are filled with it.
3. Onboard, provide knowledge and useful information, include group training
Introduce each person to OCR concepts, specific race information and its metrics. Re-tell your own story and what they should expect, share what surprised you, what was tough – keeping in mind their preparedness level and make sure to share all the available online material.
A great way to ensure team bonding and solid team work is to put people in the trenches at least for a group workout. Dependant on the team’s size it is extremely useful to gather together at least once every few weeks in order to reassess goals, motivate each other to push yourself further and of course have the best time. Some obstacle races, such as Spartan SGX (short for Spartan Group Exercise) provide amazing, affordable group experiences guided by professional OCR coaches. Check our review on one of those events, which just happened in London.
4. Boost Group Morale and motivate others to keep training till the race day
Remember to manage your own expectations as well as keep the general morale up. Chances are that newcomers might lose motivation or won’t be consistent with their training – be patient. Every person in your team has a different lifestyle with varying schedules. Their goals are different and so are their limits and how they themselves perceive them. When it comes down to the core however, “every one of them are you, just in a different life and setting”, as Aubrey Marcus wrote on mutual understanding and accepting others. Therefore be as understanding and open minded as possible. Let each person you invite along to find their own way to join the team and work towards the set vision. This does not mean that you should simply forget about those who don’t display any effort – a simple nudge or a friendly reminder does more than complaining or demanding participation.
When it comes to fitness, people are naturally interested in different sports. Be a renaissance leader – an eclectic captain who can arrange different training settings to accommodate the varying personalities. For some, the training could consist of a 5k run, whilst for others it may be rock-climbing or surfing, and so on. Any of these activities will help your team members get stronger and most importantly get ready for the race.
5. Make a Plan – Take the Lead
Winston Churchill famously said, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail”. The way to position yourself is to recognise that you are going to war. Whilst a race is a challenge physically, you are actually at war with your mind. Most of the race is a mental game and you are your own opponent. If you’re used to racing alone, you’ll have to take on additional concerns to make sure that:
– Everyone is having fun
– No one is left behind
– You have evaluated every single person in your team, got to know them and at least know their personality types, especially how they act in stressful situations
– Everyone has proper equipment, knows the logistics and has all of the important information
– Everyone knows what is coming and is ready to push past their limits
– You have your tribal items to create team bonding, e.g. team T-shirts, bandanas, etc.
– You have morale boosting cheap points – from a sports coaching perspective (since you are in the shoes of team captain) this is part of the SMARTER coaching methodology (where R stands for Reward, typically reassessment) you should be able to comfort and reward your team members with at least small token of appreciation. A water bottle, protein bar or a snack post race will do just fine.
– You have prepared a pep talk (optional)
If you plan through the worst and best case scenarios in order to avoid the unexpected you will automatically display leadership values and express credibility. You will be reliable and trusted as a captain.
Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or suggestions how else gathering your first OCR team could be improved in order to have the best time, attract more people and maybe build long lasting and memorable experiences.