A Muddy (Corporate) Culture

A few weeks ago, I participated in my third Tough Mudder event.  I enjoy these events for the physical and mental challenge and the camaraderie of competing as part of a team.

Post-race photo with my team. I am 2nd from left.

For those who don’t know, Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.

One of the most impressive aspects of the Tough Mudder organization is the culture that they have built into their events.  While it is difficult to describe in words, the Tough Mudder culture is palpable.  It is truly something that must be experienced to be understood.  The “culture” of the event is best captured by the pledge that goes like this:

As a Tough Mudder I pledge that. . .
I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.
I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
I do not whine – kids whine.
I help my fellow Mudders complete the course.
I overcome all fears.

In my experience 90%+ of the participants understand and abide by this pledge.  Those who don’t stick out from the crowd and not in a good way.  At this most recent event, I noticed a few people who would jump over obstacles without helping others or would complain that the water was too cold or the mud was too deep.  These people didn’t understand the culture.

What does this have to do with your career?  Well, understanding the culture of your organization is critical to your professional success.  If you don’t have a deep understanding and appreciation for the culture of your organization, you will fail.  Truly understanding the culture of your organization means more than memorizing your company’s mission statement or a pledge.  Instead it means embodying the principles that are important to the leaders of the organization with the same (or more) conviction than they have.

With only a few minor edits, the Tough Mudder pledge from above can serve as your own.  Try this on for size:

As a Professional I pledge that. . .
I understand that my career is not a race but a challenge.
I put teamwork and camaraderie before my own personal objectives.
I do not whine – kids whine.
I help my fellow colleagues complete their objectives.
I overcome all fears.

If the pledge above doesn’t work for you, come up with one that does.  What standards will you maintain for yourself as a professional?

Interested in the Tough Mudder event?  Check out this video for some motivation.

Tough Mudder logo

Tough Mudder logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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