Greg Perko was crawling through the mud when he got hit with 10,000 volts from one of the dozens of live wires dangling from the “Electric Eel”. He sprinted up a greasy quarter pipe where people helped to hurl him to the other side. He ran through a pit of blazing fire with flames up to 4 feet high. He swam through icy water that required him to get fully immersed under a wooden plank to get to the other side.
Greg Perko is not in the U.S. Special Forces. He chose the Tough Mudder experience to celebrate his 50th birthday with his 19-year-old son.
What Do You Want?
We each have a different definition of prosperity. Last year, there were 1.5 million US participants in just the three largest obstacle companies: Tough Mudder (the largest), Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash. There are many people that would not define prosperity as weeks of difficult training and a weekend dedicated to a grueling mountain challenge.
One hundred years ago and for many of the world’s poor, achieving “Basic Physical Needs” (food, heat, clothing, shelter) would be enough to be considered prosperous. With prosperity growth in last 150 years, many luxuries of the wealthy (or unavailable at that time to the wealthy) are now things we expect. This unprecedented progress has afforded us many new extrinsic needs (automobiles, televisions and smart phones). It has enabled the Tough Mudder competitors to pursue intrinsic needs (purpose, social network, competence, sense of accomplishment) on a mountain.
“Time” and “purpose” are recent human needs. Can you imagine a mill worker 100 years ago asking to leave early to see their child’s soccer game or saying they are not experiencing enough purpose melting molten iron ore into steel?
“Basic Physical Needs” is only one of many elements that people want. If you look at the list below, it may hard to find an element that is not important. This may help explain why we are so busy and exhausted at the end of the day.
What Do You Have?
While economic activity is an indicator of prosperity, it leaves out so many things that are important to us. Our Physical, Extrinsic and Community prosperity can be measured fairly well by using government and economic data. Our Intrinsic prosperity can only be measured by individual self-reflection:
- Purpose – a rising executive who put their career on hold to be a stay-at-home parent
- Social Network – the feeling of love and belonging after sacrificing dreams for another
- Accomplishment – a Tough Mudder successfully running up a mountain with a log and many other challenges.
How Prosperous Are You?
Personal insight into your level of Intrinsic Prosperity may not be something we want to share with loved ones or anyone else. So the answer to how prosperous are you?, may be a private one. The answer comes from knowing “What you Want” , “What You Have” and how you feel about the gap.
Tough Mudder organizers’ call their event a challenge and not a race. The 10- to 12-mile course includes two dozen obstacles designed by British Special Forces. Does that sound a lot like life? Maybe the participants are not trying to increase their intrinsic prosperity, rather are looking for insight on how to approach life.
Insight into what you want and what you have may guide you toward where you want to go in life. It may even inspire you to achieve higher levels of prosperity through a dream, big idea or breakthrough innovation. It may help inspire you to make almost anything happen.