Friends recently told us about a History Channel series they said we would really like. It’s called Alone.

The gist of it is that 10 people get dropped off in 10 different remote locations all within about 10 miles of each other, and are left to fend for themselves. All by themselves. No camera crew, no other people around them. No one. Just their own thoughts, and the animals, and the elements.

The goal is to see who can last the longest. Trouble is, you don’t know when any of the others have tapped out, because you have zero connection with them. They put each individual in a place where they literally can’t get to or communicate with any of the other participants.

Each participant has a suitcase of camera equipment and are expected to document his or her own journey. They are given a few survival items, and are allowed to choose 10 additional things from a long laundry list of tools and supplies.

They have to decide ahead of time what they need to survive, and thrive, in the wilderness. Alone.

We watched the first episode and were h-o-o-k-e-d. This isn’t like Survivor, or Alaskan Frontier, or even Naked and Afraid. It’s in a category all by itself.

It is a true test of the human spirit. Ultimately, it’s a battle with yourself.

The reward for being the last man or woman standing is $500,000, but the majority really aren’t motivated by that first and foremost. They want to see if they are strong enough. They want to compete against themselves. They want to explore their limits. They want to test their own resolve and tap into a place within themselves of spiritual and emotional healing.

Every one of them start out with the best of intentions. They all believe deep down that they can do it. THEY can be the one who lasts the longest.

Initially, at the moment of drop off they are a little scared. But ultimately, they are excited. The fact that it’s a chance of a lifetime doesn’t get lost on any of them.

After watching a couple of episodes, the story line became oddly familiar to me. The struggles, the mini joys, the big wins, the monotony, the grind, the devastating blows. All the sudden during one of the shows it hit me like a ton of bricks… ALONE is like just like running a business.

So, I started taking notes of all the similarities, and by the end of the episode we were watching I had this list below of things that eerily mirrored the life of an entrepreneur.

If you’re a business owner, see how many of these 30 things you can relate to:

  1. The fear of the external (e.g. animals) is real – everything is fine until you hear the first “bear”. And it’s only a matter of time… you will hear the first bear.
  2. The basics are essential – you have to secure your basics first – shelter, water, fire, and food – before you can ever begin to think bigger than that.
  3. A quality shelter is everything – the elements will quickly destroy you; without this, there is no rest or security.
  4. You have unlimited or limited resources, depending on how you look at it – this world gives us everything we need. It’s only those who see the bounty who are able to thrive.
  5. Being alone is terrifying, especially at night – noises are louder, darkness is darker, temperatures are colder, and time goes by slower when you are alone (either real or felt).
  6. A warm fire changes everything – it decreases fear, it increases confidence in one’s abilities, it breathes life into the mission.
  7. There’s always the option to quit – every individual is given a phone to use to tap out. But use the phone, and your journey is over.
  8. When you lose your will to persevere, there is often very little you can do to regain it – the difference between optimists vs. pessimists becomes glaringly obvious with each passing day.
  9. You often don’t realize how hard it is until you’re in it – from the comfort of a couch, you know it’s hard, but you’re just a good armchair quarterback. In reality, you literally have no idea how hard it really is unless you’re in it.
  10. No matter how much you mentally prepare yourself, you’re always going to have hurdles – the obstacles will come, the winners find a way through or around them.
  11. Living alone in the woods is not for the faint of heart – most think they could do it, until they actually try.
  12. Nature loses its beauty when you’re trying to survive in it – the places where they were – Vancouver Island and Patagonia – are absolutely stunning… to visit. Once you’re vulnerable in them, it becomes a whole different story.
  13. You just have to focus on one day at a time – to think long-term is too overwhelming. Just set your sites on one day at a time.
  14. Toughness gets stripped away when you become vulnerable to the elements – every single person, no matter how strong and resilient, will break at some point. That’s both good and healing.
  15. Sometimes you literally feel like you’re going crazy – there will be times where you feel like you can’t do it, you can’t go on, and you feel like you’re going out of your freaking mind. These days are to be expected.
  16. Everybody has a limit to what they can handle – when the hits just keep coming at some point, you just can’t take it anymore. But you often have more in you than you think.
  17. It’s the chance of a lifetime… but when you fear for your life, it’s not worth dying over – everyone is committed… until they hit their breaking point.
  18. Other people are often only less than 5 miles away but they feel like they are in another world – help and life is usually closer than we think.
  19. You have to weigh if the sacrifices are worth the struggle – what’s it all for… is it really worth it??
  20. A storm can crush you when you’re already feeling weak – when you’re hanging on by a thread, one storm that you could typically weather, can put you over the edge.
  21. Your mind is your biggest enemy – even the toughest people can snap if their emotions get ahold of them.
  22. Every day can feel monotonous when you’re only making a little progress – in the daily grind, you see little progress. It’s only when you step back, can you see how far you’ve come.
  23. The competition is against yourself, not anyone else – The only true competitor, enemy, or force you’re fighting against is you.
  24. A beard is inevitable – a little tongue in cheek with this one, but you will change, you will age, you will get weathered… it’s all part of the process.
  25. For some, life will get easier every day that you continue – but for others, every passing day is just one more closer to quitting.
  26. You could really find yourself, or you could think of reasons to leave – at the end of every day there are really only two choices… better yourself or tap out.
  27. The best part of the journey is further knowing yourself – those who fought past their fear, and the hardships, and the utter loneliness… and tapped into a new part of themselves are the ones who really won.
  28. There will be periods of hitting a wall… then you adapt – All of life is about learning, getting stuck, adapting, hitting a roadblock, changing, growing, and then starting the cycle all over again.
  29. Mental strength can get you just about anywhere – there is a massive difference between those who are mentally strong and those who are too afraid to work that muscle out. They say that only the strong survive… I say that only the mentally strong survive.
  30. Two people with the same tools can get really different results – add together attitude, skill, willingness to try new things, and perseverance, and you will see whether someone succeeds, or gives up.

One of the contestants at the end said, “We are survival machines. Just look at what the human can do.”

And that resonated with me. We are incredible beings. We create. We build. We persevere. We change. We grow. We give. And just when we think we’ve hit our end or our breaking point, we discover we’ve got a little more in us.

As a business owner, if you’re like me, many days it feels a lot like being stranded alone on an island with no (or very few resources) and it’s really easy to want to quit after the proverbial day 3 – whether that’s 3 literal days in or 3 years in.

Quitting feels like a good option when it’s hard. When it’s more than you anticipated. When you’re lonely. When you’re stretched beyond what you thought possible. When no food is in site.

But the question you’ve got to answer that no one else can answer for you…

Are you willing to give up who you are for what you will become?

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