Overcoming Your Obstacles: Spotlight on Jim Campbell

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in your life? Was it to lose weight and keep it off? Was it to stop yelling at your kids or spouse? To stop using or abusing drugs or alcohol? Or maybe it was to complete your education. Get a first job. Keep your existing job. Maybe it was to learn a language. Break up the glass ceiling. Break up with your partner. Decide to [fill in the blank]…

Life is universal in that it presents obstacles to all of us. It’s how we address these obstacles that make us different from one another. I’ve come across three types of people when it comes to overcoming personal obstacles. Disclaimer: These are by no means an exhaustive list, nor am I an expert in people types. These are simply my observations and opinions, having been gathered by my direct experience.

The first type of person will chose to ignore the obstacle. They say to themselves, “I don’t have a problem,” or “It was the other person’s fault.” Such ignorance works for a while, but eventually, the obstacle gets larger and larger until it becomes the single, most behavior-driving “thing” in their life. And then the obstacle, once ignored comes back with a vengeance, consuming and then eventually, destroying them. A second type of person decides to address only part of the obstacle. They say to themselves, “I will change only this aspect, and it will be enough.” This works for a while because change actually is being had, but change only works for so long when only one part of a larger problem is addressed. For a much smaller, third subset of people, the obstacle is addressed head on—with no hesitation. No matter how gnarly or how gargantuan the obstacle is.

On June 11, 2016 I had the privilege of meeting Jim Campbell at the Tough Mudder Northstar event. I am chagrined to admit that while I gave the “Good job, Mudder,” as I passed by, I did not stop to chat or get to know him. But, Meredith, one of my Mudder teammates, did. At the next obstacle, Meredith started telling me about this “Jim guy,” and the story was so intriguing that I looked him up once I got home. All I can is, “wow.”

For those of you unfamiliar with Jim’s story, I encourage you to read Tough Mudder’s write up on him: https://toughmudder.com/mudder-nation/blog/overcoming-obstacles-inspiring-story-jim-campbell. But, in brief: Jim—a former, top-ranked American Motorcycle Association racer—was struck by two semi’s, thrown over a highway embankment, then crushed by his falling Harley, and rescued by paramedics who gave him a 0% chance of surviving. Jim’s response? “Someday, someone will tell you-you can’t do something. Later you will thank them.

Since that day, Jim has resolved to be the first person to run 100 Tough Mudders. Though he was initially told by doctors that he would never walk again, Jim didn’t let their prediction come true. Instead, he used their pessimistic prediction to fight back. He did therapy, and then he began an aggressive incline training regime that gave him the nickname “Da Goat.” In 2011, he ran his first Tough Mudder Colorado, and in a nice form of sentimental symmetry, he’ll run his 100th Mudder also in Colorado in 2016. Never walk again? Seems like the doctors couldn’t be more wrong.

But, what about the rest of us? It’s unlikely that we’ll experience the same extreme set of circumstances that have made Jim fearless in his recovery. Still, there is an extrapolation here that connects us. For those of us running OCR races, we know about the physical obstacle in our paths. But, all of us can identify with the everyday obstacles that block our paths—work, family, health, money, relationships—all these can present hardships that we then react to.

Here’s the challenge. I’ll call it the “Da Goat” Challenge in honor of Jim. Can you be thankful for those obstacles—physical or otherwise—when they come your way? Can you choose to overcome them, instead of succumbing to them? Like any form of training, mental conditioning takes diligent effort. But, one might say this mental training is the most important training of all.

Thank you for the motivation to overcome our obstacles, Jim. And the next time I see you at Tough Mudder, I’ll make sure to stop and run a mile with you.

Want to share how you’re using OCR training to help overcome other obstacles in your life? Share your story with us in the comments, or use Facebook #DaGoatChallenge.

Jim Campbell Mud Crawl

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