Unchallenge: More Than Pushups

6 mins read

In December of 2023, I had a familiar pull. About every 6 months, I want to refine what I’m doing. And, for some reason, that makes me want to get a little group together to do the same. I think it has something to do with the ‘mana’ of group settings. Or, that’s the way The Rock phrases it. Hosting the #unchallenge allowed me to dive into that ethereal substance; that magic that is produced by small groups.

I wanted to host a group to help work on some things that I would have been working on anyway. Fitness, personal development, core values. Searching – actively questing for the extra. I think that being a ‘connector’ between like minded people helps fuel me. Or perhaps, it’s the sensation of feeling that energy in budding groups – the kind of feeling that let’s me know we’re really working, really progressing. That feeling, for some reason, really makes me jive. I suppose it’s just the way I’m wired.

Seeking: People not afraid to change.

So, I posted to IG – looking for participants for something I’d call the ‘Unchallenge’. See, I’ve done ‘you have to do X pushups every morning’ type challenges and, while you get to do a lot of pushups, the challenges themselves don’t really help you hack habits, develop courage or do the things that will embolden real change. I knew that, but, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do about it beyond host something and get things moving in the new year.

A lot of people don’t really like ‘new year resolutions’. I get it. A lot of those resolutions fall short because they’re not founded on good goal-setting technique. But, the one thing the new year really does do is set a specific date for designing a reset. A lot of people – and sometimes myself included – are in the camp of ‘why not now?’

Sometimes there’s that ‘something’ about setting a ‘line in the sand’ date.

So, that’s what we did.

On January 1st, 2024 a good handful of @sixfoxtrot followers signed up for a challenge with no posted rules, no expectations and no public design.

I think that in and of itself is worthy of attention. That’s a courageous act. Even though it was totally voluntary – and people could drop at any time – the fact that people would step forward for something with no list of what’s being expected is one percenter territory.

Getting your shit together is punk rock.

One of the things I’ve been putting out there recently is the idea that hitting the mark is actually pretty counterculture. In the Unchallenge, we looked at the domains of wellness. Including but not limited to financial, creative, physical, spiritual and occupational angles. Nine in all. These domains, we found, compile toward a person’s wellness.

The first thing we looked at was an exercise developed by Drew Dudley of Day One Leadership.

We established a working baseline. From here, we knew that our foundation was rock solid. One phrase that was often repeated paid homage to the hard work of naming, defining and operationalizing our core values;

YOUR CORE VALUES DO NOT EXPIRE ON THE WEEKEND.

We talked about work. On treadmills and trails, we logged miles. In the wee hours of Wednesday mornings, we sought advice and built better ideas for talking to our loved ones.

At random intervals, a message would appear;

TASKING: “I CAN MAKE IT”

DEADLINE: 2359, 21 JAN

From there, silence until one by one, participants would submit proof of their work. External work, like three hundred pushups before midnight and internal work like starting a budget.

When the month came to a close, I sent out stickers to a handful of people who forwarded their mailing address. As I was getting these envelopes ready, I was overcome by a swelling, ultimately fulfilling sensation of pride. I haven’t met these people past the lime-green confines of my WhatsApp icon, but, I was honest-to-goodness proud of them.

The #unchallenge is something I want to do again.

I’m not sure when – but soon. I’d like to add a physical meet-up option; maybe for a ruck march or something for those of you who are local to me. I’ve got some ideas about how to build this out to be a little bigger, too. Maybe even a planned meetup for a little more extended period to work on some more personal development stuff. Ideas.

Maybe I’ll put this out there; if the Unchallenge is something you would want to do again, get at me. If you have capacity to plan for this in the future – could you make it to small-town Ontario for some in-person work?

Shoot me a message on instagram. Here’s our profile: Link.

If there’s demand for that, I’ll start working on sponsors – after-all, we’re already a not-for-profit. This would be a progressive way to help the community in a real, actionable way – and we’re about that.

Bill Dungey is a volunteer firefighter in Ontario, Canada. He is focused on fitness, mindset development and finding training opportunities to help the fire service make things better.

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