Endurance : A Human Quality


No. 46
Posted on 5/22/2017 by Mark Hutchinson
"Endurance is the crowning quality; and patience all the passion of great hearts."
- James Russell Lowell

"Endurance, after all, is the only reason we even exist. We think of ourselves as nature's deadliest animals, but the truth is, a naked human is the biggest wimp in the wild. We have no fangs, no claws, no strength, and no speed."
- Christopher McDougall


Picture of calves portion of a runner on dirt to show endurance Your ability to endure hardship, difficulties and frustrations is a far more magical power that it might seem on the surface. In fact, endurance is not just found in the realm of gritty, seasoned soldiers or high performance athletes. It is an essential core you’ll find inside those people around you that always get things done, don’t make a big deal about it, and have high goals set for themselves.

In an anthropological documentary I recently watched, the film maker hit directly upon the same idea as our second quote above. That the incredible endurance of humans allows them to overcome harsh realities of the environment and also to dominate other creatures that would otherwise be favored with the odds makers in a cage match. I watched a group modern African hunters just follow their prey, walking mind you, until the prey just stopped running and gave up. The process took several days. The weaker, slower, more fragile humans were better at regulating their heat, rationing their water, pacing themselves, mapping their progress and supporting each other.

This ability to subjugate pain, fear, the tedious, the exhaustion by a conscious effort is an incredible advantage.

We don’t have to like or enjoy difficulties, but focusing our full energies to get beyond the immediate and reach a larger goal provides additional motivation for the next time. Short term pain for long term gain. The more this cycle of endurance and success is repeated, the more of a challenge we believe we can handle.

So what is the key? What is the source? How do we tap into this amazing power?

Perhaps you’ve already guessed it. It’s your mind. Endurance comes from your mind’s ability to focus on a goal beyond your immediate needs. First you must work consciously to strengthen your mind in terms of both concentration and focus. Then apply that mental power to a simple endurance task. The more you practice the more your endurance increases. The old adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” fits nicely here don’t you think.

You first endurance exercise could be something as silly as holding your hand in ice water for ten seconds. But over time you’ll realize that even demanding your own 100% attention in a one hour meeting is also an endurance exercise. You don’t have to run an ultra-marathon or chase your dinner for four days to build your endurance. But if you treat every difficulty as an exercise you will quickly see that you already have many opportunities to grow your capacity for being amazing!

So take some time this week to think about what you’ve already endured and how far you’ve come. Then set your sights higher. You can make it further than you think! Patience, endurance, and heart.

Have a great week!

- Mark
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