A group of four people who only knew me from writing hired me for three days of private lessons. They weren't sure what they would get. Possibly a complete waste of time. Possibly new skills or new insights. Possibly to be tested to the edge of the envelope.
That needed a talk. Most of us have done the grueling physical tests. Most have worked out in extreme pain or through injury. Everyone has been tested or at least feel that they've been tested... but in this field there is something wrong with that paradigm. It is not the way this particular world works.
Psychologically and physically, everyone breaks. There is no passing grade for a survival test, whether it is assault survival or combat or wilderness survival or natural disaster. No matter what you have in terms of skill, will and equipment there is a level that will overwhelm you.
There is no such thing as a 'survival level of proficiency'. Not in a world with a 100% mortality rate.
There is no test so grueling that passing it means you are unbreakable. You are profoundly breakable. All a test can tell you is if you have reached your limit. You can only really learn by failing. Passing, whatever that is, only means that this test on this day didn't break you.
And if you do break, if you find that edge of exhaustion where you can't force yourself to move or the psychological precipice where meekly submitting and obeying seem like good options... the edge you have found becomes invalid the second you find it. And how it becomes invalid is hard to predict. Some find the inspiration to be a little tougher the next time, some find it easier and safer to give up a little earlier. Some become afraid to ever be tested again.
If all you can really learn is that you will break; if the best you can get is to understand that some days you are the bug and the situation is a windshield on a gut level (I hope no one is so delusional that they don't at least acknowledge this intellectually), how valuable is that insight, really?
Most will never approach the edge in their normal lives. Of those few that do, it seems knowing and trying to expand that limit only really helps those who are going into situations again and again with others needing to rely on them and thus needing to predict a teammate's breaking strain.
How many things does this apply to? Violence in all its forms. Disaster survival. Maybe things as subtle and common as peer pressure. 100% mortality. Everyone dies. No such thing as a passing grade.