Listening to the stories of the people who failed to complete the Kokoda Challenge, I am a bit jealous of what they have experienced. In my opinion, the distance covered is irrelevant. What is relevant is what you learn when you push your body to failure.
Some people fail at 5km, others fail at 100km, the Kokoda challenge was just a format that allowed as many people as possible to experience physical failure in its rawest form. i.e. physical exhaustion, combined with sleep deprivation in the cold and dark. To top it off, they make you compete as a team, so pulling out makes you feel as though you are letting your team down.
I can tell you that it is emotional, this sort of thing brings grown men to sob. But what comes out of this is a deep understanding of the human spirit. Getting to that point is like living an entire lifetime in one event, from jovial beginnings to a bitter end, where you think you can go on, but your body is slowly dying on you.
Nothing can prepare you for the way that you will react when all your layers are stripped away. Pride is the anchor for the soul. In the hours preceding failure, the people around you know more about the real you than everybody else’s experience of your entire life so far.
You cannot hide, and having experienced this, both personally and now objectively, what is most interesting is that day to day, we are constantly trying to hide the best part of ourselves (without even knowing it most of the time).
Seeing someone at their weakest, is seeing them at their best. Their ego has been destroyed, exposing the magnificence of the spirit within. And experiencing it first hand is like coming face to face with your own soul.
The paradox, however is that each time you reach this point, your ego grows back stronger, and makes reaching this point so much more difficult next time. But you can rest, assured in the knowledge that you know you have met your god. Next time you will know what to expect – and can better prepare yourself for the brief meeting.
If you know these brave soldiers, watch them in the coming weeks – they may have failed to complete their event, but in doing so, they have won the greatest prize.
That is why, in my humble opinion, true success is actually achieved only when you reach failure.