Adapting to Your Environment

In our personal and professional lives, we are constantly hit with one adversity after the other, most of which we have no control over. But the four things we have total control over is how we react, how we adapt, how we breathe, and how we take action.

Diamond Dallas Page (wrestler, fitness instructor, motivational speaker)


A few years ago, I participated in a Spartan Sprint. The Spartan race (themed after the Greek Spartan army) took place in a stadium less than two miles from my home. My trainer at the time cobbled a team of his clients together to participate in the obstacle course which consisted of three miles of challenges like running up and down stadium steps, climbing over six foot walls and traversing monkey bars. For most adults, training for a race like this can prove difficult because aside from typical exercises like weight lifting or running, most of us don’t have access to climbing walls or monkey bars.

Lucky for us, our trainer was over six feet tall so on the day of the race, he was able to hoist us over walls with ease. Despite our height challenges, we finished in a little over an hour and afterwards, celebrated with our newly won awards.

Fast forward to this year, I decided to do the Spartan Sprint again. I’m a sucker for medals and awards so when I heard a race was coming up, I signed up. This time around, I didn’t have a 6’ trainer to train me; I trained myself through various bootcamp classes. I didn’t have a team, but rather, an eager friend that signed up also. She regularly runs these kind of races. The race took place in Salinas,CA which is about two hours south of San Francisco so we had to rent a car and get up early (around 5:30a.m.) for the drive down.

I was so confident going into this challenge and was blithely unaware of what laid ahead of me for the morning. Instead of cool concrete, we had a dusty uneven terrain. Instead of stadium awnings, we had desert-like conditions with nothing but the sun beating on us and the occasional burst of wind to cool us down. Instead of a six foot tall trainer to get over walls, my equally height-challenged partner helped hoist me over the walls with her shoulders.

I became dehydrated pretty early on in the race and had to pull on every ounce of strength (and my partner’s encouragement) to finish.

I completed the race but the experience for me was so much more than a physical feat. As I tended to my bruises and relaxed in the post-race glow, I had time to reflect on the day and the unusually painful morning. The critical mistake that I made preparing for the race was assuming that what I did before would work again.

I made incorrect assumptions about where I was going based on where I had been.

I took a lot of the differences of the races for granted and forgot that I needed to adapt my approach for my new environment. It was a painful reminder that in any endeavor (e.g., new job or team) it’s wise to take the time to assess and make sure you’re bringing the right tools, skillset, and mindset to the table.

FYI — I’m running another race in November and I’m committed to doing this one the right way...stay tuned.


Aji OliyideComment