#1053 Hope & Zest - Part 2

The Science of Spartans

Not too long ago, we chatted about the Big 2 Virtues—the two virtues that science says are MOST correlated with a deep sense of true happiness and flourishing.

Do you remember what they were?


And Zest.


As I was preparing for the talk I was going to give on the Saturday morning right before 500+ of our Heroic Coaches did a Spartan Race together, I realized that our entire program was basically ALL about cultivating Hope and Zest (or, what we’d call “Energy”) AND I realized that the Spartan Race we were about to do was an even more perfect sport-metaphor of our philosophy than I originally imagined.

Get this…


Do you remember the three components of Hope?

(Imagine me drawing this on a big ol’ flip board in front of our room full of Coaches.)

We start with a Goal out in the future. If you want a strong sense of Hope, science says you’ve gotta believe that your future will be better than your present. That’s Step 1.

(Imagine me drawing an arrow pointing up and to the right with “Goal” at the top of it.)

Then you need to have a sense of Agency. You need to believe that, through your effort and hard work, you can MAKE that hoped-for future a reality. That’s Step 2.

(Imagine me writing “Agency” at the bottom of the arrow.)

Finally, you need to be willing to pursue multiple Pathways. You need to KNOW that your first path will almost certainly not be the one that actually leads you to your desired destination. You will face obstacles. You’ve gotta be willing to pursue Plan A to Z (then Plan Aa to Zz!). That’s Step 3.

(Imagine me writing “Pathways” in the middle next to a bunch of arrows that lead from the bottom of the arrow (“Agency”) to the top of the arrow (“Goals”).)

Goals + Agency + Pathways.

Put them together and we have a grounded, scientifically valid sense of Hope.


As I mapped that out in my journaling prep and thought about the (pep) talk I was going to give right before the Spartan Race I realized that I could map the Race’s three primary components PERFECTLY over the science of Hope.

The “Goal” of a Spartan Race? Get to the Finish Line.

(I wrote “Finish Line” right next to “Goal”.)

The “Agency” of a Spartan Race? Well, the only way you’re going to get to the Finish Line is to get yourself to sign up for the Race and get yourself to the Starting Line. You won’t be able to do that if you can’t get over the first obstacle, which is the story you’re telling yourself abut why you can’t do it. That requires Agency. A lot of it.

(I wrote “Starting Line” next to “Agency.”)

Finally, what’s the one (!) thing that makes a Spartan Race a Spartan Race? OBSTACLES. The only way you can finish the Race is if you’re willing to go over and under and through and around a ton of Obstacles. You need to EMBRACE the obstacles and create “Pathways” to rock it.

(I wrote “Obstacles” next to “Pathways.”)

The Big 3 of Hope? They’re EXACTLY what a Spartan Race demands.

Goals + Agency + Pathways meet Finish Lines + Starting Lines + Obstacles.


And what do you need to power your way through the 5k up and down muddy terrain and over/under/etc. 20 obstacles?

Zest. A lot of it. (Aka ENERGY!)

Hope + Zest.

The Big 2.

That’s the Science of Spartans.


That’s Today’s +1.

How’s YOUR Hope + Zest?


What’s one little thing you can do to Optimize it TODAY?

P.S. Last year we had 500+ Heroes Race together. We were the second-largest in Spartan history. This year, Fate permitting, we plan to set the record and break 1,001. Join us!

P.P.S. Here’s the group of Heroes with whom Alexandra and I finished the Race!!!

And… Here are some other EPIC Finish Line photos of some of our beloved Heroic Coaches!

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