Spartan Habit #2:

SpartanHabit2.PNG
 

The Spartans were known for their military prowess.

In fact, they served as Hoplites their entire life. They perfected it, and they trained in peacetime and wartime. This gave them an army at all times, and they structured their way of life around this army.

Their army was small compared to what we would consider large. They only had 1500-2000 men, but they were fierce, determined, and focused. Their skills were that of warriors.

We learned in Spartan Habit #1 that the Spartans used to try and push each other into the river Eurotas, to try and replicate the initial "bump" that they would feel during battle.

To give you an idea of what that "bump" was like, watch the video below and pay attention to the first contact.

 

Ummm...does anyone else want to go workout?!

Anytime I watch that, it makes me want to do a couple of back flips and an inside to outside crescent kick across someones face... 

Ok, I'll calm down. 

All the Spartans had to be exceptionally disciplined and trained well to be able to hold a line like this. I can certainly tell you that when swords and spears start flying right in front of your face, it's hard to remain calm, decisive, and not freeze up or run.

The reality is, most of us would curl up in a little ball, run, or die. We lack all the skills and discipline required for this type of warfare. However, we could be trained, but it would require us to enter the Agoge.

The training of a spartan

Spartan boys were taken from their mothers at age 7, and placed in the military style training academy known as the "Agoge". They were housed in communal barracks, similar to our military now. They were instructed in scholastic's, warfare, stealth, hunting and athletics.

The boys were often left outside to survive on their own with nothing but a red cloak that they could use as a blanket while they made a bed out of reeds. They became very resourceful, efficient, and cunning.

Today, our children play video games that make them think they are a Spartan soldier. Instead of learning to survive and be resourceful, we have a fridge stocked full of mountain dew and hot pockets.

I am not condoning everything that the Spartans did, or saying it was right, but something has seriously gone wrong. 

What skill are we teaching our children? What skill are we learning? Are we working on it everyday?

Even Spartan Races have become huge, and they have even recreated something that they call the Spartan Agoge.  Though these are both challenging events, they pale in comparison to anything that a real Spartan had to endure.

We look at it as suffering and doing something difficult. For them, it was just what they did, it wasn't hard or difficult. It was a way of life.

So yeah, you might be Spartanesque for a weekend, or a Saturday afternoon. What are you doing the rest of the week. What is your life speaking? What is your skill?

Learn a Skill and develop it (what is your profession?)

We like to separate our hobbies from our jobs, and our jobs from our families, or our families from our exercise.

Who you are, goes with you wherever you are. 

There is no way around it. Compartmentalizing doesn't work.

Spartans weren't warriors on the weekends, they were warriors all the time!!

Spartans built their skill through exercise, combat and repetition.

It's really the only way to get better at something. Repetition.

We as men need to be keeping our bodies and minds strong. Believe it or not, it is a skill. Going to the gym or working out when you feel like it, is not a recipe for developing a skill. 

Every time that we don't feel like working out, and act on it by not doing it. We have built a neural pathway in our brains that will make it easier for us to not workout the next time, because we will use the same excuse or logic from the time before.

On the contrary, If we don't feel like working out, but we do it despite our feelings, the same thing applies. We have created a pathway that will help us to create a habit of working out the next time.

Think of a neural pathway as a superhighway, every time it is used, it gets stronger and stronger. So if you haven't worked out in years, it is possible that you have some other strong neural pathways (habits) that have been developed that need to be broken down.

What skill are you going to choose?

We all have things that we are good at, or that we do as a career. 

I'm a mechanical engineer, but I'm also a triathlete, runner, writer, father, and husband. They are all rolled into one. None can exist without the other.

Those aren't skills, they are titles or things that I was placed in. I chose to be a mechanical engineer, but I got better at it by learning new things, and constantly failing.

To develop a skill in anything requires failure in something.

To develop a skill there are 3 rules:

  1. Make it challenging
  2. Repetition
  3. If you don't feel like a failure, you're not trying hard enough

So what skill are you going to choose? 

Three years ago, I had never run over 1.5 miles in my life. I decided I was going to start running. In the process, I have done multiple 5K's and 10K's, a couple triathlons, Spartan race, half-marathons, and I will be running a marathon on August 12th.


 

What are your Impossible Goals

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing

 

However, I am going to try and run 30 miles (50 K) instead of 26.2. Then it will be a marathon and an ultra-marathon in one shot. 

The next stop is a 50 mile race. I never started out being a runner, or ever thought that this is where deciding to get off the couch would lead me, but I'm excited.

What are you going to do? 

What skill have you developed?

- Stephen