Cold Exposure - why

365 Days at 36.5 Degrees: Who VS Why?

“Know your why!”

We hear that advice a lot and it’s true, you should know why you are doing something. But sometimes we get a little, how should I say, overly philosophical about this question. “What is your ‘why’ in life?”

Wait. What? That question is a little much for a Tuesday morning as you are running late, and your kids have found your last nerve and are about to attack it. You’ve got a different “why” at that moment like maintaining your calm and focus as you move through the morning grind without biting everyone’s head off, perhaps.

Your “why” is an important question. But it has many layers and can change. Your “why” today may be different than your “why” yesterday. That’s ok. You can, and should, have large “whys” and smaller, more iterative “whys”.  But there is one thing that won’t change as you move from “why” to “why” and that is who you are as a person. No “why” will matter if you are not clear about who you are.

What Does My Purpose Have To Do With Ice Baths?

So, how does the question of who you are and ice baths correlate? Well, the ice bath is a means to find who you are. How? Because you can’t hide from the cold. It will force you to face the truth about who you are. There is a courage and commitment that is associated with entering an ice bath or cold shower. There is a focus and calm that is associated with thriving in the ice bath, not just surviving the ice bath.  If you choose to talk yourself out of the cold exposure and make excuses you have just learned a little about yourself. If you choose to be overly dramatic and make a real show of being in the ice bath, you have just learned a little about yourself. But the same can be said for any commitment you make, right? Yes and no.

For example, if you are committed to exercising on a regular basis, you may very well be “exercising” but not really committed to effort or focus. In other words, you are simply going through the motions and convincing yourself that doing something is better than nothing. Likewise, with things like meditation. You may be lying down with your eyes closed but allow your focus to drift from the spirit of what meditation is. In other words, you are simply going through the motions and checking a box but not really meditating.  

However, there is one activity you can’t really just go through the motions with: cold exposure. You will not be able to sit in an ice bath with focus and calm without being truly focused and committed to the task at hand. In other words, you can’t just go through the motions.

I’m not saying you can jump into an ice bath and you will automatically figure out who you are. It takes prolonged commitment and effort. However, it will be a start. The cold will expose things about you that you may not like. Then, once you have that awareness, you can begin to decide who you want to be and work on that. Once you have the process of who you are and want to be, finding your “why” will become that much easier.

Skeptical? Well, there is only one way to prove me right or wrong; get started.

Get started with the intention of understanding who you are as you observe yourself in each stage of cold exposure. Then get started to become who you want to be in each stage of cold exposure. Just get started and it will begin to make sense.

More to follow!

I’ll be posting about this regularly on my Instagram (follow the hashtag #Leader193cold) and I hope to update you weekly here on the blog. You can learn more about how I use cold exposure as a leadership tool in my book The Process, Art, and Science of Leadership. You can also read more about the benefits of cold exposure on leadership here.

Errol Doebler is the founder of Leader 193, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Leader 193 to realize his passion of empowering great leaders and better human beings. Errol provides executive coachingkeynote speaking, and corporate retreats to individuals and teams across the world.

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