Whenever talk turns to how we might grow, whether it be in relationships, education, career, spirituality or fitness, “stepping outside of one’s comfort zone” surfaces as a necessary step. This reminds us that change is difficult and uncomfortable, and it’s going to push us beyond what is familiar and predictable. Out there, past what we are used to and what we currently know, is where adventure awaits. If we follow that logic it points us to the notion that embracing a sense of adventure is essential to a growth mindset.
“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac
One way to embrace adventure is to see life AS adventure. In every life there is time filled with humdrum office tasks and the tedious mowing of lawns or cleaning of rooms. And, we’ve all heard the advice to make even these mundane moments adventurous by making a game of them, challenging ourselves to file more quickly or mow more efficiently.
But, I’m referring to more than just looking for joy in these daily tasks. Instead of just making the best of what is, we can look for ways to reach a bit higher. At work we can ask what can be learned, what skill will help us do our job at a higher level or what added responsibility might be taken on. Instead of just maintaining the house we can set an intention to discover what can be changed to make it a more fulfilling place to live. In our relationships with others we can seek to learn to communicate better, share more of ourselves or build the courage to stand up for what’s right in order to be a better partner, neighbor and human being.
The journey might lead to learning new computer skills, finishing a master’s degree online, unlocking the mystery of how to use a miter gauge with a table saw, finally taking that course in gardening, or seeking to understand what it means to be anti-racist.
“Live your life by a compass, not a clock.” – Stephen Covey
Another way to embrace adventure is to GO on one. Not only is there life beyond our everyday activities, but what awaits us feeds our very nature and positively affects how we show up in our lives. It is through our adventures that we become more fully who we are.
While preparing for adventure we come to understand the meaning of true motivation fueled by purpose and vision. When pushed beyond what we think possible, we discover capacities not previously known to us. In overcoming challenges, we reveal to ourselves the courage and resolve we have inside and we have laid open in front of us our weaknesses and mistakes.
Subsequently we are better equipped to navigate our world with confidence and self-compassion. We can tell stories forged in exploits undertaken in the light of a full moon, through rainstorms, across rushing rivers, on narrow ledges or over ribbons of dirt trails. And, those stories are overflowing with metaphors for day to day life. Adventures make life interesting. Adventures are, in fact, what makes us interesting! Eric Grobecker, Senior Director of Global Compensation at Expedia Group, underscores just how important this is in the corporate boardroom. “When you’re seeking to make a point more clearly or to connect with others, nobody shares the tale of what happened at indoor cycling class over the weekend. What makes a story truly compelling is when it happens out in the wind and rain and leads you to encounters with all sorts of unbelievable situations and characters.”
Too often adventure of any type is left further and further behind with age. Adulthood brings other responsibilities that require our daily attention and energy. Aging leaves us reluctant to try new things or afraid that our physical self is no longer up to the task.
But adventure, like metaphorical treasure, is there for the taking. What it requires is a vision of where you want to go, a map for the journey and perhaps a guide to help you on your way. In my work as a coach I get the distinct privilege of being that guide for people who want to set out on the adventure of their lifetime. That dream may have been set aside, long forgotten or kept secret. But, it’s almost always there just beneath the surface.
If you’re wondering whether you have a secret, fantastic adventure waiting inside you, a good question to start with is, “If I had all the time and resources I needed, what would I do?” Once answered truthfully and spoken to the world and completely owned as your desire for how you want to live, the journey to fulfill that vision can begin even without additional time or resources descending from the heavens. This is the same wellspring of inspiration and purpose that a person uses to save up the money and invest the time to go to night school, quit a job and start a new business or commit to checking off that bucket list accomplishment.
What treasure do you seek?
“Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.”- Captain Jack Sparrow
Photo credit: tmanskephoto.com