Think birthday wishes are all about cake and gifts? Think again!
Ever heard of a “Misogi”?
It’s a Japanese term for cleansing, which “The Comfort Crisis” author Michael Easter reframed as: intentionally challenging yourself to conquer the seemingly impossible. (Learn more about misogis here: https://jimharshawjr.com/312)
Here’s the thing— my 16-year-old son asked for a misogi as a birthday gift! Sounds crazy, I know. But if my son’s up for a challenge, then I’m more than happy to give him the challenge that he’ll never forget.
So for Wyatt’s 16th birthday, we did the 24-hour Appalachian Trail Four State Challenge.
If you want to know what happened, hit that play button now because this episode isn’t just about trails and blisters. It’s about unraveling the power of determination, grit, and pushing boundaries— and how we navigated through pain and emerged with a newfound faith in our capabilities.
Get ready to conquer your doubts and unlock a new level of resilience— because if my son and I can do it, so can you!
If you don’t have time to listen to the entire episode or if you hear something that you like but don’t have time to write it down, be sure to grab your free copy of the Action Plan from this episode— as well as get access to action plans from EVERY episode— at JimHarshawJr.com/Action.
[00:00] If you find yourself worrying a lot, or you have self doubt, or you feel like there's a lot of uncertainty in your life right now, or maybe you just feel like things are too hard for you, or maybe you just like to do hard things, this episode is for you. Welcome to another episode of success through failure, the show for successful people.
[00:21] And for those who want to become successful, the only show that reveals the true nature of success. This is your host, Jim Harshaw, Jr. In this episode, we're talking about a Misogi that I did recently. What is a Misogi? Well, this all got planted into my head back when I interviewed Michael Easter, the author of The Comfort Crisis.
[00:40] That was in episode 312. If you've not read the book, it's phenomenal. You can go back and get, you know, obviously a lot of the cliff notes and a lot of great high level stuff from that episode in episode 312 for my interview. But the idea of a Misogi, it's this Japanese term for a cleansing, but it's kind of been manipulated to mean sort of a cleansing in the sense of doing something really hard, pushing past your limits and coming out the other side of it as a new person.
[01:07] And there are two roles to a Misogi. Number one is you have to have a 50% chance of success. And number two is. So this was planted in my head way back when I interviewed him and I started talking to my kids about it in general, my boys both had interest in doing it. And then my 15 year old son who is turning 16 said he wants to do a Misogi for his birthday.
[01:32] So we went around and around about some different ideas of what kind of Misogi we could do. And it can be anything in the book, the comfort crisis, he talks about some surfers out on the West coast to. Did their own version of a Masogi. They created their own. And that's the thing about a Masogi. You can make up anything you want.
[01:51] Well, these guys, there were three surfers. they found they had an 85 pound rock and it was out in the ocean. I forgot on how deep it was out there. 10 feet, maybe something like that. And it was 85 pound rock and they would take turns. Carrying the rock as far as they could. They would dive down, grab the rock, run with it, as long as they could drop it, come back up and then the next guy would do it.
[02:14] And it took them like five hours to do this. That's just a great sort of example of what a oggi is. So that's what these guys did. And my son was like, you know, what can we do? And we were just trying to come up with different ideas, something really hard, maybe some kind of endurance workout. We wanted it to be unique, something that we created.
[02:29] So, We had some ideas and then we were going to do like a 24 hour hike. We were just going to do this 24 hour hike and like in the Shenandoah National Park up on the Appalachian trail. And we were going to maybe do it like a big loop hike. And then we came across this thing called the 24 hour four state challenge on the Appalachian trail.
[02:47] And that is you start on the Appalachian trail, which goes from Georgia to Maine. And you start right on the Pennsylvania border and you can hike from Pennsylvania. through Maryland into West Virginia, and then cross into the Virginia line all within about 45 miles. So we discovered this and we're like, okay, this is kind of a cool idea.
[03:06] You can actually hit four different States. And the goal is you do it in 24 hours or less. That means. Hiking all day long and through the night. Okay. So the goal is to not stop to just keep on going through this the whole 45 miles until you hit all four states and why it's birthday's coming up. So he decided that's what he wants to do for his 16th birthday is the Appalachian trail.
[03:29] Four state 24 hour challenge. And I was like, Oh man, I don't know about this. Like he's, you know, starting cross country season. Is he going to get blisters? Are we going to get hurt? Are we going to be able to finish this thing? I really felt like we had a greater than 50% chance of completing this, you know, where are we going to complete it under 24 hours?
[03:48] I don't know, but I think we had a pretty good shot of it. Are we going to be able to finish it at all? We're going to get blistered so badly that we have to stop. You know, all kinds of variables, a lot of uncertainty. I've done a lot of hiking in my life, nothing to this extent, you know, I've run a marathon and done Spartan races and that sort of thing, but this is just a whole different level and wasn't sure, you know, there, there was a lot of uncertainty.
[04:10] I wasn't sure if we were going to find success in this or not. Quick interruption. If you like what you're hearing here and you want to learn how you can implement this into your life, just go to JimHarshawJr.com/apply to see how you can get a free one on one coaching session with me. That's JimHarshawJr.com/apply. Now back to the show. So we did our research. We had maps and we were reading on it and reading some Reddits on it. And, you know, I have tons of gear, but also getting some extra gear from friends of mine. I have a friend who did the rim to rim to rim on the Grand Canyon. It's South Rim.
[04:46] Down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, up to the North Rim, back down and back to the South Rim. And that's like 45, 000 feet. I think I read 45, 000 feet of elevation gain, which is absolutely absurd. So I knew he would have some endurance gear for me. He also does ultra marathons, et cetera. So I checked in with him like, Hey man, anything we need to think about?
[05:04] He's like, yeah. And he gave me these soft flasks, which are these great collapsible water bottles. They're small, like 16 ounces. So anyway, got some gear from him, got some gear from another neighbor and prepared for this thing. And we also had to think about the logistics of driving. And my wife is an absolute saint.
[05:20] So we drove up, she dropped us off and then picked us up at the end, essentially. So there was a little more logistics to that because we had her drop some stashes of food and water. We didn't want to have to carry all of our water. We had backpacks, but we didn't want to have to carry gallons and gallons of water because we're doing this in the summer and it's almost 90 degrees on the day we hiked it.
[05:41] So we would have to carry like. It'd be like a camel basically. So anyway, there's a lot of logistics and planning this thing and, you know, asking her a lot of her actually, you know, help us through this thing and drop some stashes for us at the 10, 20 and 30 mile marks, essentially. And 38 is essentially.
[05:58] Okay. So let me walk you through this. And then what I want to share with you is four huge takeaways for me that I knew you could apply to your life. Maybe you want to create a Masogi. Maybe you're going through something hard. You're like, man, I don't need to create Masogi. My life is a Masogi right now.
[06:12] And I want to give you some takeaways, some things you can really walk away with. Something concrete, some things that are, are huge lessons that we learned from this experience that I'm taking and applying to my life. And you can apply to you. Whether you do this or not, obviously you didn't do the Misogi we just did, but you can apply these to your life.
[06:28] You can take these learnings and directly apply them. Okay. So let me walk through the sort of adventure first, the 21 hours that ended up taking us. So we started off at 9 30 AM. This parking lot. It's called Penmar actually it was, there was a parking lot nearby and my wife just drove us to really right to the trailhead.
[06:44] and we started at the, in Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania, Maryland border at 9 30 AM. And we set off right in the first, I don't know, six or eight miles. It was like all smiles. And this is awesome. This is exciting. And we're crushing it. I mean, we're doing like three miles an hour, which is fast when you're hiking on a trail to 20 minute miles.
[07:02] And, you know, there's ups and down there's rocks and that's a. Pretty fast walk for anybody who's a hiker out there. You know that, and we're doing great and we're crushing it. And we're putting fuel in our nutrition, in our body as we go and hydrating and everything's going great. And it was around the 10 mile mark.
[07:19] And I'm like, man, I'm getting a little bit tired. You know, this is we're 10 miles in, I got a heck of a long way to go. And about the 15 mile mark, I'm thinking to myself, we have 30 miles to go. We have to do what we just did. Two more times and knowing that each of those times is going to be harder than the prior one, because you're going to be more fatigued, more tired.
[07:40] And I'm starting to doubt at the 15 mile mark. I had some real doubts as to whether we could actually do this. And I knew it wasn't done then. I just knew that this is going to get really, really hard. So at about the nine hours in mark, we reached 20 miles. And we get to our second stash of foods. Our first stash, we got to a 10 mile second stash of food and water met my wife.
[08:04] She brought us some sandwiches. Plus we had a bunch of sort of easier to digest, very high calorie food. You got to pile in the calories you're burning anywhere from three to 500 calories an hour. It's really hard to keep up that kind of calorie count, especially when you're drinking so much and you just don't feel like eating, but you got to keep this stuff going.
[08:22] You got to be. Eating very consistently. So 20 miles in, we take this good long rest and we sat down for a good, it's about 45 minutes. We sat down, took care of our feet. Couple blisters were going by then. We had already taken care of them a little bit earlier, but we did a real, you know, change socks, change shirts, fixed up our feet and blisters and, you know, stretched our legs, rolled out our legs with water bottles we had.
[08:48] And we really took some good downtime. And then we felt. Good. And we hovered, we felt really strong and boom, we head back into this thing. And at about 11 PM, we're like 14 or so hours in 30 mile. We hit the 30 mile mark and we had a stash of food that my wife had left for us, food and drink. Pedialyte and bananas.
[09:11] And we knew this was going to be our toughest stretch coming up. So it's dark out. We're sitting on these picnic tables in this pavilion in the middle of nowhere in Maryland. And like, we're thinking, man, this is hard, but we're feeling strong. We're going to take this long break again and really recover, but we're aiming for like 20 to 30 minute break and really recover.
[09:29] And we did. And so off again, we go, we're feeling it at this point. We're getting tired. We're. Still trying to cram in food and we reach midnight and we're almost 70, 000 steps. So anybody who out there who has a tracker or a Garmin watch or anything where you're tracking your steps, we were at 68, 945 steps for the day, 68, 000 at midnight.
[09:53] And they reset at midnight. So I actually got a video of my watch where it resets from 68, 945 to zero when it strikes midnight. And the whole trip ended up being 105, 000 steps by the way, in 21 hours. And things got really hard after that. I mean, fatigue set in, I mean, gosh, the last stretch, really the last six miles or so we hit our fourth stash, about 38 mile mark, and we're exhausted at that point, of course.
[10:23] That's when things got really, really hard. And you know, things are going to be hard when you get really tired. And just like in life. And at this point we are coming into, approaching Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. So it's one of our, one of the kinds of towns you pass through and we're really tired at this point.
[10:43] But we get into Harpers Ferry and we're on an easy trail. It's nice and flat. It's like an old rails to trails, like an old railroad, or, this is actually the, the canal, path where it's super, super easy, super flat, but we missed our freaking turn. It was dark. Our heads were down. We're just kind of going and going and we missed our turn.
[11:02] And finally, I look at the map. We're like, oh man, we're like two thirds of a mile past it, which doesn't sound like a lot. But at that point, it's like about to break you mentally. So we turn around, actually, at one point I looked at the map and I read it wrong. I thought we were two miles past and we were like, Oh, about to break.
[11:18] But I'm like, no, no, it's only two thirds of a mile. So two thirds of a mile passing got a double back for two thirds of a mile. Then we crossed over in the bridge and we get into Harper's ferry and we can't find where the freaking trail goes. Like we're in this town. And maybe in the daylight, you can find this, but it's the middle of night and we can't find where the trail goes through the town to get to the other side of town.
[11:38] So we can continue on the AT Appalachian trail. We're looking all around. I spent like 15 minutes walking in circles and every step you take is wasted energy walking this way, walking that way, walking in circles. Finally, we figured it out. We get through town and we get to the other side of town. We get back into the woods and.
[11:56] We're hiking on the last track. We're at the last couple of miles. And we realized that the last two miles at one point, we're like walking along through the woods and I look at the map. I'm like, we're off the trail. Like there's no trail on the map, on the GPS where we are standing right now. Turns out the Appalachian trail must've been moved since this map was created.
[12:17] And instead of being two miles, it's four miles. So right at the very, very end, when we're at our most tired, like mentally and physically tired, it's like, no, you don't have two miles to go. You have four miles to go. And that just about broke us. We were so frustrated. We're, you know, defeated mentally just about we're on their breaking point.
[12:37] And it's all uphill, by the way, this whole last stretch is uphill and it's rocky. We finally make it. I mean, the map is mismarked and we finally get there. But the thing is when you get to the end, it's anti climatic because you have, there's this little sign. It says West Virginia, Virginia line. You take your picture with it.
[12:54] And then you got to backtrack two miles, backtrack, like just where you came. It's like two more miles. Like it was just so fatiguing. So incredible journey at the end of it. We were just absolutely exhausted. We've been up for more than 24 hours. We've been awake at this point. And. My wife comes and picks us up.
[13:13] We sit in the van, she drives us back and she actually camped out with her, our girls overnight, drives us back to the campground. We fell asleep while they packed up the tent and everything like that. And we were done. We were spent, fell asleep and then drove home. She drove home. We slept the whole way home.
[13:29] Of course, just totally passed out. And there was not really this moment of like, yay, we did it. Like this moment of like, we're on the podium and you get a metal or we, like, there's, there's nothing like it was so anticlimactic. So. I was like, what are the lessons from this? And throughout the whole hike, I was actually thinking about you guys, the listeners thinking about like, what are the lessons from this?
[13:50] Like, what, what can I take away from this? Other than it's just freaking hard. Well, here are five lessons that I'm going to give you. Okay. Number one, ruminating didn't help. So I forgot stuff. I forgot the charger. We had these spare battery packs to charge our headlamps for overnight. Cause we knew our headlamps weren't going to last long enough.
[14:08] So we had two headlamps for each of us, and we're just going to have to rotate them as they died. Well, they forgot the charger that worked for three of the four headlamps. So I only had one charger that worked with one headlamp as opposed to the other one that worked with the other three. And I was like, Oh man, now, now we have to like really balance and juggle the headlamp thing.
[14:27] Maybe one of us has one on at one point. Another one has is, you know what, the other one has it off. Just so frustrating kicking myself. And I'm so, I was so meticulous with our packing and everything. And this just kept going on and on in my head for hours until I finally said, you know what, I've got to let this go.
[14:45] So ruminating didn't help. And it's the same thing in our lives. Like, listen, you've made mistakes. I've made mistakes. Others have made mistakes. The quicker we can let go of that, the quicker we can get past it and move forward and learn from that. Like, what did I learn from that? Well, it's like double check, triple check.
[15:02] Yeah. Well maybe check one more time. Maybe have somebody else check your pack. Maybe, you know, have a checklist. We didn't have a, I actually did have a written out checklist, but it just said chargers, but it didn't say which chart, like maybe be a little bit more detail oriented, but man, don't ruminate.
[15:17] Once I let go of the ruminating, once I finally said out loud to white, I said, Hey, listen, what? I'm going to stop ruminating on this because I keep beating myself up and kicking myself and tell myself, why did I do that? I can't believe you made that mistake. Once I let it go, I had more mental bandwidth to work with.
[15:32] So that was number one, biggest lesson takeaway. Number two, I had serious pain at one point. As a matter of fact, my hip was hurting so bad. My hip flexor on my right side was hurting so bad that every single step was. Shooting pain from my foot the whole way up to my hip and I was limping and I'm thinking, I can't limp for 15 more minutes, about 15 miles.
[15:55] We had to go yet, not knowing we had about 18 miles to go because we had missed the turn and added the extra two miles, et cetera. And I'm thinking, I don't know if I can go 15 miles like this with the excruciating pain, every single step. And I was worried mostly about the longterm. Damage. Like, am I going to do long term damage to my body here?
[16:17] And I was thinking about this. I'm like, no, this is a muscle thing. I don't think this is going to be any long term damage. It's going to be a few days of pain, maybe even a few weeks of recovery from this at most. So as soon as I had that realization that this was temporary, this was not permanent damage that I'm doing to my body.
[16:35] I decided, well, I'm doing it regardless whether or not there's pain. I'm still going to do the final 15 miles regardless of what pain I have that I'm feeling right now. Now, if something else came up that was serious, that's a different story. But I realized that this pain right now that I'm experiencing was not going to stop me.
[16:52] Just didn't matter, right? It was just temporary. It was going to be for the remaining, however many hours we still had on the trail. Seven hours or so. It's funny. I had a similar experience when I ran a marathon back in 2020, about six miles in, I was having really bad IT band. If anybody, or if you're a runner, you know, the IT band is kind of goes from your knee up to your hip and you can get some real bad IT band pain.
[17:17] And I remember we're starting this marathon. I'm six miles in and I had this really bad knee pain. Starting to crop up that had been part of my training in the last month or so in my training, I've been getting bad IT band issues and it stopped me from some of my training runs. I mean, it was excruciating and.
[17:35] When I had that pain hit me at about the six mile mark of the marathon, I made the decision, like it doesn't matter. I'm not doing this over. I've done all this prep, all this training. This is today's the day I'm doing it with a buddy. Cause no marathons were happening during 2020. I was like me and a buddy, this is the day he's not going to do it again with me someday.
[17:52] So. I'm going to do it regardless of the pain. I'm just going to do it. I don't care regardless. I'm moving forward. So when I made that decision, it was like this mental override that happened, this unconscious mental override that just overrode the pain. So the pain went away. So there's something to that.
[18:08] There's something to making that commitment, making that decision that I'm moving forward regardless. So that's the biggest lesson there is. Deciding that you're going to move for making the commitment, making the decision on whatever that is for you in your life. I was in so much pain during this hike that I actually considered asking my son, like, Hey man, if, if you got to do the last five miles solo.
[18:31] 10 miles solo. Could you do it? Like would you do it? I was in such pain, but anyway, had I was able to move past that. So that's the second big takeaway. The third one, I had a lot of doubts creep in at different times, and I always noticed, I paid attention to this. I noticed that the doubts crept in.
[18:50] Typically during two phases. We were either going up a hill , or it was really technical hiking just. Picking where every step was going and your ankles are getting twisted and you're stepping up hard on things and you're stepping sideways and up and down and like the really, really rocky areas, really technical hiking.
[19:10] That's when my men, you know, not even realizing that it was coming, the thoughts and the doubts were creeping in because of those things. But I just thought that the doubts were just creeping in. I'm like, this sucks. This hurts. I'm tired. I'm hungry. I'm all these feelings. And I don't know if we can do this.
[19:28] But then I realized, wait a second, we're on an uphill. Like I didn't feel like this 10 minutes ago. And, or we're on this really technical spot. Like I didn't feel like this five minutes ago. So this is temporary. So when the doubt crept in, I kept realizing and having this understanding that, wait a second, the doubts are creeping in because I'm in a really hard section and this is temporary.
[19:52] So that's, The lesson is to understand, okay, where are you at in your life? Are things really hard for you? Like, are you having extra self doubt? Are you having additional feelings of uncertainty and lack of confidence? Well, are you just going through a phase right now? Are you just going uphill?
[20:09] Are you in a really rocky spot? If so, keep moving, just get through it because once you get through that section, things are going to get easier for you again. Okay. So that's my third takeaway. First one again was stop ruminating. Second one is make the commitment to push through the pain and the pain will subside for you in some way, shape, or form.
[20:30] It will subside for you. And the third one is This is temporary. The doubts are coming in because you're going through a temporary struggle. All right. Number four was this. We experienced such a range of emotions and I knew this going in. I told my son, I said, we're about three miles in. And I said to him, we're going to go through all kinds of emotions over the next 24 hours or less.
[20:54] Just so you know, we're going to be, we're going to have good emotions and bad emotions and everything in between. And we're going to sway back and forth through all these, just, just be ready. Like it's, it's easy to handle the good emotions, but the low points, those are the ones that we really have to override the default there.
[21:11] And so we experienced, we were excited at the beginning and then at some points we felt defeated, we felt physical pain, we felt doubt. We felt uncertainty of where the trail is and where the trail goes. Um, we felt rejuvenated after stops. we felt frustration. We felt questioning. We were questioning like, why are we doing this?
[21:28] What we're in the freaking middle. That's four in the morning. And we're walking through the middle of the woods. Like why, what's the point of this? You know, you're going to be questioning yourself. You might have. An anti climatic finish like we did, we literally got to the sign. We're like, Oh, there it is.
[21:41] Thank goodness. We got to it. This sucks. Let's get back to the freaking van. We've got two more miles to go. Like it might be anti climatic once you get there, but here's the next takeaway after that. The value is in the memory. So we're two days out of this thing right now, actually just over a day. It's been a little over 24 hours since I completed it when I'm recording this and the enjoyment and the satisfaction is setting in.
[22:05] Now, like I'm my body's sore, but the enjoyment in the satisfaction is now beginning to hit me and hit both of us. Like we did this thing. We'll have this memory of something awesome that we did together for the rest of our lives. We will know that we, we did this thing together. We pushed through something hard.
[22:24] All right. So you're going to experience in your life, a range of emotions, know that you're going to have bad emotions. And then when you're in the bad emotions, like you have to know that you're going to have good emotions again. All right. So you have to get through those low points by just telling yourself, logically, this is going to end.
[22:41] We're going to get to the other side of this low point. Okay. The fifth and final takeaway is this. I can do hard things. I can do hard things. I've gained confidence. I've gained knowledge of gain wisdom. Sure. About some of those technical parts of this trail and where we went and the gear, but more importantly about myself, I know that I can do really hard things.
[23:07] I've known that I can do hard things before because of wrestling and a marathon and Spartan races, but now I've gotten another thing in my toolbox. Another thing in my mental resume of hard things that I've done and low points that I've gotten through. And I know I can push through through those again, and I'm applying these to my life.
[23:24] And I know that they're going to be hard things again, coming my way. And I know I can get through those. So I hope these takeaways strike home for you. If you want to create your own Masogi, go ahead and check it out. You know, check with your doctor first, you know, asterisk find print, you know, don't do this at home.
[23:42] Don't try this at home, but find your own Masogi, whatever it is. And build it, design it, make sure it works for you. You know, rule number two, really, really important. Don't die is a big one there, but man, you will get so much value out of doing something hard. And if you can find somebody to do it with doing hard things together is so, so rewarding.
[24:06] Thank you for listening. It was an amazing adventure. We had so much fun mixed in with all the challenging spots and challenging hard times, but it was so valuable. And I hope. You found value in our experience as well. Thanks for listening. If you want to apply these principles into your life, let's talk.
[24:24] You can see the limited spaces that are open on my calendar at Jim Harsha, jr. com slash apply, where you can sign up for a free one time coaching call directly with me. And don't forget to grab your action plan. Just go to JimHarshawJr.com/action. And lastly, iTunes tends to suggest podcasts with more ratings and reviews more often.
[24:46] You would totally make my day if you give me a rating and review. Those go a long way in helping me grow the podcast audience. Just open up your podcast app. If you have an iPhone, do a search for success through failure, select it and then scroll the whole way to the bottom where you can leave the podcast a rating and a review.
[25:05] Now I hope this isn't just another podcast episode for you. I hope you take action on what you learned here today. Good luck and thanks for listening.
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