EP. 36 | “Hardship is really what makes us who we are. It’s easy to be an optimist when things are going great, but who are you when things get really difficult?”
Today’s guest is one of the most exciting people I’ve ever met. Ultrarunner, Charlie Engle was the first man to run across the Sahara Desert. He’s a real life action hero too – all documented in a documentary film produced and narrated by Matt Damon (yes, you read that right!)
What I love about Charlie is his ability to take on and succeed at things which seem humanly impossible.
Charlie is right at home when he’s neck deep in struggle. In fact, struggle has defined a whole chunk of his life. From crack cocaine and alcohol addiction, to a stay in federal prison, to the extreme feats of physical endurance, Charlie is proof you can survive anything.
And that’s what we talk about in this episode. Why push yourself to the absolute limits? Why put yourself under so much pain? How do you move beyond exhaustion to achieve things most people can even imagine (wait until you hear about the next ‘crazy’ adventure Charlie’s planning!)
So brew a cup and listen to an inspiring story of hope about a man will just will NOT give up.
I’ve got to be honest, I seriously loved talking with Charlie. I come from a similar mindset – that struggle can be transformative and that you can grow and discover more about the person you are as a result of intense challenge.
It’s like Charlie said, anytime you purposely put yourself into a challenging situation you always learn something from it.
Often we choose the comfortable path through life (perhaps unknowingly). But I agree with Charlie. “Comfort is overrated” and “comfort as a goal is very unfulfilling.” In Charlie’s words, “I’m not on this planet to have an easy experience. I’m here to do as many things as I can.”
So if you’re curious about the mindset and philosophies of a man who’s more comfortable in struggle than out of it, you’re in for a treat. And if Charlie’s story inspires you to take on a feat of your own, I’d love to hear about it.
Some questions I ask:
- Can you share with us why you started running and why you choose this over everything else? [4:16]
- What motivates you to chase the emotional rewards you get when you finish one of your incredible feats? [7:03]
- What are the similarities between running across the Sahara and overcoming addiction? [9:18]
- You seem to be using struggle to take care of yourself. How do you think struggle and self care go hand in hand? [14:51]
- Why do you think it’s so hard for people to live a life with passion? [18:49]
- How has going through addiction shaped your definition of success? [21:51]
- How do you balance expecting life to be hard with enjoying the fruits of your successes? [24:07]
- What is the most important lesson you’ve learned that reinforces your own philosophy on life? [27:24]
- Dead Sea to the top of Everest. What’s motivating you to do this trip at this time? [30:40]
- How do you reframe challenges to make them seem practical? Is it a skill or experience? [35:36]
- How does resilience differ when the pain is someone else’s? [40:33]
- In the midst of everything you’ve been through, how do you stay grounded on a daily basis? [47:00]
In this episode, you will hear about:
- Emotional rewards and what running did to help Charlie turn his life around. [6:40]
- One step at a time mantra and how this connects crossing the Sahara and overcoming addiction. [9:41]
- How to approach first time experiences (which we spend our lives chasing) so they bring possibilities instead of anxieties. [13:45]
- The question that left Charlie speechless and why one of his challenges is to be happy and comfortable when things are ‘ok’. [16:30]
- Why comfort is underrated. [17:20]
- ‘We compare our insides with other people’s outsides.” – why this can shut down passion and affect how we feel. [19:55]
- Why you have to be comfortable with unresolved conflicts. [23:00]
- Why you don’t have to be perfectly prepared to take on the things you’re planning. [29:00]
- 5.8 – Charlie’s lowest to highest challenge, a metaphor for life, and being good stewards for the planet. [31:51]
- Charlie’s favorite saying in the world and what it tells us about struggle, resilience, and opportunity. [37:20]
- The most important word in the universe. [41:27]