Joe DeSena founded the Spartan Race and hosts the Spartan Up podcast. For those who know about me and my burpees, cold showers, rowing a marathon, picking up garbage daily, and so on, you can imagine I love what he does.
Joe has made it his mission to bring the emotional rewards of joy, service, happiness, resilience, grit, toughness, and all those things to the world by creating a culture and community that works for it. Some people expect tough means suffering, but I hope you’ll catch what I found at the root of Joe’s message and life, which is emotional and physical growth.
I heard fun, connection, playfulness. Physical activity enables these things. It’s not the goal. The meaning and purpose behind it and that it creates are. At least that’s my read.
I happened to catch him while running a two-week program for kids including an event called the Death Race. You’ll hear how the kids respond, how parents respond, and how kids in inner cities respond to similar programs.
As it happens, after we finished recording the audio, Joe picked up his laptop and started showing me around his team and farm. I hit record in time for him to find Henry, the kid he talked about. We’re checking with Henry’s parents for permission, to show the video of Henry’s first-hand account of that struggle Joe described.
We all know that struggle. We can all learn from Henry and his innocence of what most of us have sadly learned, how to make better excuses. I shouldn’t say better. Excuses that we believe from ourselves more.
Joe does things. Doing things teaches us to do more. We learn to initiate, take responsibility, find the pleasure in doing things, find the disgust and disappointment in watching life pass us by, and waiting for others to do for us.