Last weekend I did something I am very proud of, and, something that will hold a fond place in my memory for many years to come. So, of course, I’m going to write a blog about it. The important thing about this message is that I want to ensure it comes across with the achievement being much less about me and what I accomplished, and far more about the power of a team, a group, a club, a community or whatever you want to call it. I bonded with a new group of people and shared an experience with them that will live on… evidence about the power of the tribe.
I very fortunately came across a wonderful lady name Elizabeth and her husband, Adam, who own and have created a wonderful community at CrossFit Southeast, in Rowville Victoria. We connected, I did a talk to her members and then not too long afterwards she told me that she had entered a team in the Spartan event in March 2019, and, asked if I would like to join the team. Now, Elizabeth is very persuasive, and before I had the chance to wriggle my way out of it, somehow, I had said yes and was booked in to compete with the team in this Spartan event. I had no idea was it was, what was involved, whether I could do it or whether I even wanted to do it!

I started doing some training at the CrossFit box, and, it hurt! And, as happens, time quickly passed, and this Spartan event approached faster than I expected or was prepared for. I still didn’t know what to expect, but Elizabeth kept telling me it would be okay because we were a team. That somehow didn’t comfort me that much. As a professional footballer, I knew that, even though it was a team effort, there would be pain and suffering involved! Anyway, I did know, that whatever would be thrown at me, I would somehow get through.

The day came along, it was last Saturday, and we were due to start our wave at 12 noon. At 10am that morning it was already 35°C (95°F), and, heading towards 40°C (104°F). As I was driving to the event, about an hour out of Melbourne, I could see the smoke from a serious a bushfire happening in the general direction I was heading. This is not a great sign! As I arrived, it was hot, it was windy, it as dusty and it was dry. I couldn’t believe how many people were there, thousands, of all different ages, stages, shapes and sizes. I started feeling a little better, but still I was quietly pooping my pants! I located Elizabeth and Adam, and then met up with the team. Some I had met before, others not. Right from the beginning, we all had one thing in common; we were all about to do something that was going to hurt and something that for many of us was an unknown. So, straight away, there was a connection between us all.

Together Everyone Achieves More!
We had to jump over a high gate just to get into the starting area, and, I nearly tore my hamstring before we even began!! Keep in mind, I am 50 plus GST this year! Then the gun was fired and off we went. The aim was to stay together as a team, but this was initially a little hard for me because I have an ego and my tendency is to sprint off out in front to show my prowess, but, I resisted this and stuck with the rest of the crew. I really wasn’t sure what to expect and so every turn and each obstacle was an adventure.

Over the course of the next two hours we faced twenty obstacles which required us to climb walls, climb ropes, lift weights, carry heavy sandbags, walk through swamps, crawl through the mud under barbed wire, swing across monkey bars, toss spears at a target and many other challenges that left us all muddied, blistered, grazed and sore. We all got through because we worked together as a team. The old cliched acronym for T.E.A.M is Together Everyone Achieves More, and, as schmaltzy as it sounds, it is so true! We made it because we were a team. If we had all taken off and run our own race, there is a chance that not everyone would have made it back across the finish line.

We were there to help each other get over walls. We were there to help each other lift crazy heavy sandbags to the top of a 10-metre pulley. We were there to support the ones who couldn’t get across the monkey bars without help. We were there to do extra where others couldn’t do an activity, like climb the rope. We were there to run with people who felt like stopping. We were all there to give the word of encouragement and support just when someone needed it most. There were plenty of times when I needed that word of encouragement, a high-five or a pat on the back. Wow, the power of a tribe!

The most horrible part of the process was the 30 burpees that each person had to do if they didn’t successfully complete any of the obstacles. This is where we all needed help. 30 burpees done alone is tough, but, 30 burpees split between several people is a piece of cake. Then, at the second last obstacle we each had to throw a spear and stick it in a target. There was only one attempt and each miss cost 30 burpees. I went first, and with a loud, guttural and native roar, I launched the spear and scored one for the team. Yes, I was proud of myself. Then, I watched with horror as every one of the remaining ten people in the team missed the target. I counted, with trepidation and fear as the burpees racked up to 300! Then together as a team, we got them done. Finally, we climbed that last rope net obstacle, over the top and down the other side and together we ran across the finish line. We were victorious and together as a team. It was a great feeling and there was an instant bond between all of us.

As I look back at the things I have achieved in my life, it has been not because of me, but because of my tribe. My team mates at St Kilda FC shared the journey with me, my partners in my personal training business inspired me, my publishers for my books supported me, and, my Spartan tribe encouraged me. There is so much power in a tribe, so, this week I want to encourage you, no matter what you are aspiring to achieve, find a partner, a coach or a tribe of people to connect in with. The help, the support and the encouragement will lift you to any heights you want to reach. Just know, as you move forward in your life this week that, whilst the spark may come from you, the power is with your tribe.