All growth comes from change, but transformational growth requires something more. It requires grit, determination, and above all else, a commitment to improvement. For Samantha Schilling, a Senior Associate in Siegfried’s Cleveland market, her journey of growth began through trial and error and a little challenge called 75 Hard.
“Before I came to Siegfried, I had tried completing 75 Hard a few times, but I just wasn’t fully committed to it,” reflected Samantha. “But once I came to Siegfried and was surrounded by people dedicated to improving themselves, I felt ready to see this challenge through.”
The 75 Hard program is, as dubbed by creator Andy Frisella, a “transformative mental toughness program” that asks participants to forego alcohol and cheat meals and exercise twice a day (with one being outside). Additionally, each day you are required to drink a gallon of water, read 10 pages of nonfiction, and take progress pictures.
The program was a daunting challenge to say the least, but Samantha quickly realized its benefits spilled over into both her professional and personal life. She soon began making waves on her client project, connecting more deeply with her network, and being more present in the pursuit of her long-term goals.
“Once I got into the routine of this challenge, I realized how much time I have every day and to not make excuses. Being consistent and showing up for myself over the course of the 75 days improved every aspect of my life,” shared Samantha.
Before seeing the fruits of her labor, Samantha had to slog through the strict daily requirements of 75 Hard, including outdoor exercise. And in a Cleveland winter with consistently freezing temperatures, a workout in the elements was no small feat.
“I really just took it day by day and lived with patient urgency, as we say at Siegfried,” explained Samantha. “With the ice and snow, it took me a while to find the best time for my outdoor exercise, but being outside helped me decompress and get away from the stress of work and everything else.
Dealing with the weather was hard, but that’s life, and life gets hard. You have to persevere through things you don’t want to do, but once they’re done, you feel so accomplished,” Samantha reflected. “Seeing the progress I made in such a short time made me realize that if you put time in the right spots, the impact you can have on yourself is exponential.”
Connections she could count on
In addition to the outdoor exercise, Samantha had to complete a 45-minute indoor workout as well. She woke up at 5 AM to make it happen, fueled as much by her personal desire as she was by her supportive friends, family, and colleagues. Her trainer, Heather, was also instrumental in pushing her through to the finish line.
“There’s a group of us that go to the gym every day, and that really helps maintain the consistency. I will say, for the outdoor workout, it can get tough, especially with late nights during month-end. Heather was there for me, texting me constantly, pushing me to just get it done, even if it meant skipping the walk and taking my rowing machine outside due to the weather conditions.”
This support not only inspired increased commitment to her goals but changed the way Samantha approached her everyday interactions, particularly at work. “I started going the extra mile proactively and taking it upon myself to collaborate with other departments at the client. I had the scope of work that I was there to complete, but I wanted to see if I could connect with other people and find creative ways to help make their jobs easier, even if it wasn’t explicitly what I was there to do.”
Her dedication to providing long-term value led to an authentic connection with the client’s Vice President of Global Financial Shared Services, and the pair still keep in touch. It also brought Samantha closer to the Siegfried team in Cleveland, including her mentor Brian Seidner, Managing Director.
“Over the course of the 75 days, Brian continuously checked in on me and even surprised me with a nonfiction book to add to my reading list,” said Samantha. “Having Brian’s support made a substantial impact on my ability to see the 75 days through, especially when balancing professional and personal obligations. He cheered me on throughout the entire process and I’m so grateful for the unconditional support he has for both my personal and professional development.”
The mental fortitude required to complete the physical challenges in 75 Hard is evident, but the social resilience to forgo alcohol and maintain friendships is equally as notable. But once Samantha started going out and interacting without alcohol, she began to appreciate the clarity of mind it brought with it.
“From a social perspective, alcohol has been infused in my social life for years. So when it came to going out with my friends, it was challenging to not drink at first, but then I began to reap the benefits of staying sober,” explained Samantha. “On nights I would go out with my friends, the following morning I was able to start my day feeling good, hit the gym, and knock out my grocery list all before 11 AM. I just had so much more time and energy to focus on what’s truly important in my life. Most people would think giving up drinking would be the hardest task, but once I stopped, I realized all of the negative effects it had on my body and mind.”
Even after completing 75 Hard, Samantha’s goals remained simple. She wasn’t trying to be an Olympian, or turn into a fitness influencer; rather, she was pursuing improvement for her own personal success and satisfaction.
“I wasn’t trying to be the fittest person in the room. At the end of the day, all I truly care about is being the healthiest version of myself and being able to be more present in my relationships with those who have supported me through my life,” said Samantha. And her commitment to the challenge, holding herself accountable, and bettering herself even made her friends interested in learning more about Siegfried. “What drew me to Siegfried was the higher purpose of helping people transform themselves into better leaders to exponentially improve their lives. Working for an organization who values your development has impacted me personally and has inspired people in my network to come work at Siegfried as well.”
Though Samantha is “all-in” on her growth and maintaining a consistent approach, she recognizes that striving for transformation is one of life’s most difficult challenges. “Seeing 75 Hard through to the end has made me see not only the potential in myself, but the potential in everyone around me,” reflected Samantha. “I’m not trying to inspire everyone to go to the gym. I want them to find their own passion, purpose, and really go for it. Life is so short; having the opportunity to take advantage of your time today will transform your future. For myself, this is only the beginning, and I cannot wait to accomplish as much as I can and be present and intentional with the people I care most about in my life.”
And Samantha’s desire to help others on their road to transformation is genuine: “My question for you, what’s holding you back from investing in yourself and what are you going to do about it today?”