Starting a blog has been on my mind for a while now as it is a convenient way of documenting my PhD journey, a platform to share my thoughts and generally an opportunity to write. So, 2021 rolled around and I made it my new year’s resolution to do just that and here it is (better late than never). I don’t know how consistent I will be with these or even whether this will be a one hit wonder, but please join me on my endeavour.
The best place to start would be to provide a brief overview of my research as this is primarily the focus. In a nutshell, we are exploring the impact of physical challenge experiences on workplace performance and more broadly peoples lives. We believe that through repetitive engagement with physical challenges your ‘mental muscle’ can grow just like a physical muscle would through training. I understand the term ‘physical challenge’ is incredibly broad and, more importantly, very subjective, as what is deemed a challenge for one person (e.g. a marathon) maybe considered the norm to another (I know that is an extreme example but you get the idea). Physical challenges are, therefore, unique to each person. This particular piece of research, whilst recognising the broad nature of these challenges, will focus on primarily adventure activities (e.g. skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing, trekking etc.) which encapsulate the concept of challenge at their very core.
The basic premise behind the research is that through pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, successfully overcoming challenging situations and reflecting upon the experience, you are presented with the opportunity to construct new knowledge, personal attributes/skills and sense of self. There is plenty of anecdotal and scientific research which supports this notion and findings suggest that following successful engagement with physical challenges participants can experience elevated self-confidence, motivation and self-esteem and also develop crucial interpersonal skills, such as, communication, leadership and decision making skills. Building on these findings, we assume the positive psychosocial outcomes developed through physical challenge can provide the foundations for individuals to thrive in other areas of their life.
An important question to answer, whats the need for this research? Well, we are living in incredibly challenging times and it is becoming increasingly important to understand how we can better support people to thrive in the workplace and their lives more broadly. For example, not only are we having to change the way we live our lives due to the ongoing (and what feels never ending) pandemic but our very basic human needs are being stripped from us. Thus, it feels like there is no better time to research into initiatives that not only help us survive in these challenging times, but to thrive.
Whether you want to learn more about this topic or just see how I am getting on, keep an eye out for more blogs in the future. This research is part funded by The Leadership High (https://theleadershiphigh.com/). They are a fantastic company who harness the very idea that physical challenges do not only have a positive and meaningful impact on your physiology, but also your psychology.