Once in a while a TV show comes along that captures people’s imagination. Currently we have the first series of Australian Ninja Warrior. Like most of these shows it is a local franchise of a program developed elsewhere and licensed. It is also not a new idea.
That said the old versions were more about fun and frivolity with falling over being more the aim than a problem. I recall as a child going to the taping of one such show called “Fair Go”. Whilst ability was involved, it was more about fun than serious tests of fitness strength and endurance. The modern version is a test of strength, stamina and endurance. Contestants have to traverse a series of extraordinarily difficult obstacles and barriers.
Not everyone makes it through the whole course but nobody is a “loser”. Obviously, they do not get a prize for participation. What they get is the satisfaction of having had a go. In many respects people are competing against themselves as much as the other contestants. The audience viewers and even other contestants (there are a few sets of siblings and others who train together and are friends) are supportive of all who are having a go for the effort they make and training they have put in.
Those completing the entire course go onto the next round. But everyone who has pushed their own boundaries has achieved. The ability of people to strive and seek to be the best they can be is a positive role model for all. And this principle is not just related to sport.
In Ninja Warrior, not reaching the end of the course is not failure. There will be an overall winner, but everyone who competed has won against their own self-doubts.
In a similar vein Brendan O’Neill wrote about Connor McGregor the UFC fighter who upset the PC brigade recently. “McGregor isn’t really at war with his UFC opponents. He’s at war with himself and with that self-doubt that rankles in every mere mortal. He once said, “There is no opponent … you’re against yourself.” That should be on posters in schools. Don’t blame other people or some past event for your struggles or failings – usually the thing you need to beat is you.
Far from letting defeat get him down – or worse, turning it into a misery memoir, as is the fashion these days – McGregor says: “Defeat is the secret ingredient to success.”
Whether it is UFC, Ninja Warrior or everyday life, striving to be the best you can be, learning from setbacks and not blaming others is what sets those who succeed apart. Despite what is often promoted to the contrary, we all have this capacity should we want to invoke it.
It is popular these days to portray everyone as a victim of circumstances beyond their control and to see every small setback or any word said as a huge insult and blow to the essence of the individual. Children are viewed as being potentially damaged by knowing they have lost a game. Adults, we are told need trigger warnings before reading books. An entire industry has sprung up to encourage and profit from faux victimhood. Whilst most of us may need help at times this does not make us victims.
The reality of the human spirit is different. Human resilience and the ability to strive to achieve that which we want resides in us all. Despite what is often promoted to the contrary, we all have this capacity should we want to invoke it.
Dr Joe Kosterich MBBS is an author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, who wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life. Dr Joe also gives practical, motivational health talks for the general public and organisations where he is known as “An independent doctor who talks about health”. His latest book “60 minutes to Better Health” is available on Amazon.