Rites of Passage
Every culture on the planet has always had some type of obstacle to becoming an adult. People have generally had to go through some difficult and painful experience without flinching. A young Australian aborigine had to survive for up to 6 months on his own. Some native tribes required young men to spend a year alone. Why? My personal opinion is that it is because hardship causes strength. People who have been through rites of passage are stronger than people who have been coddled. They are also wiser. Solving problems and overcoming obstacles is exercise for the brain. I believe this is why our 45 day instructor program is such a success. It’s a modern day Rites of passage.
Winners Don’t Quit
The instructor program is not easy, although the skills are easy enough to learn. A beginner with no previous experience can take the class and successfully graduate while a seasoned pro at survival may tap out when the going gets tough.I don’t get the chance to spend much time with those who tap out but those who push through though are changed forever. They have overcome something big. An obstacle, mostly mental, has been conquered and the graduates are stronger and wiser for it. I consider myself very lucky to have many ongoing relationships with these winners and I learn a lot from them.
Traditionally shame would be brought on the person failing to complete a rite of passage. Sometimes the person was shunned or disowned by their family or tribe. We don’t do go so far, here at Sigma 3, but we do have a bell that participants are supposed to ring before they tap out. So far to date though no one has ever rang it when quitting. I suppose this is because they believe the bell is what causes the shame instead of their mental weakness. In fact quite a few quitters have left in the middle of the night without saying a word to anyone. These People still have to live with themselves when they look in the mirror.
Quitters Don’t Win
Sometimes students who quit realize they do have what it takes and they come back and take the class again. These people are fighters. They lost a battle but refuse to quit so they try again until they make it. I have a lot of respect for these students. In many cultures you have to try repeatedly until you overcome whatever obstacle is deemed adult worthy, sometimes for years.
And then there are students who just refuse to quit regardless of the circumstances. Let me give you an example. A couple years ago, during the winter instructor program, the weather turned bad the first day of Scout. It was pouring rain, the wind was fierce, and the temperatures were in the low 40s. Nine students had made it this far and were about to face the most challenging obstacle yet. They had to survive for 7 days with just a knife in this horrible weather. On the morning of day two 8 of the 9 students tapped out. They fell like dominoes and it’s hard to blame them. The conditions were horrible. They were wet, cold, miserable, and hungry.
But one student refused to quit. Gabriel Estremera struggled on, alone, for 7 days of torture and in so doing, realized that he had what it takes to make it, no matter how bad conditions are. He was the only graduate of this class. I can almost promise you that his feeling of accomplishment far outweighed the misery he felt during that one cold wet week. He will carry that with him for life.
How About You?
How about you? Have you been through some rites of passage that has forever changed you for the better? If so, I would love to hear about it in the comments. If not, we can help. Check out our instructor program here at Sigma 3. The benefits will last a lifetime and so will the friendships.