6th Station – Living with a Spirit of Adventure
Find yourself a quiet space in which to work. You will need access to the internet to watch some TED Talks, a paper and pen for making some notes, and a copy of your Discovering a Spirit of Adventure resource sheet.
Have you ever been told that the secret to happiness and success in life is to follow your passion and find your purpose?
The theory goes that our passion and purpose is what drives us forward, compels us to strive for our goals, challenges us to achieve more, find purpose in all that we do and “live our best life”. So is finding your passion the secret to living your life with a spirit of adventure?
Watch and Learn:
Watch the following three films and as you watch, consider the following questions and make notes:
- Terri Trespicio says that passion is not a yardstick to measure experiences by but the fire that ignites when you rub the sticks of your experiences together. What do you think she means by this?;
- If your life’s “passion is not a job, a sport or a hobby” what is it?;
- What is the “adjacent possible” and how do we grow it?;
- What do you think Bill Burnett means when he says “no plan for your life will survive first contact with reality”?; and
- Bill talks about three dysfunctional beliefs. The first is “what’s your passion?” What are the other two? Have you encountered any or all of the three and why do you think that Bill tells us they hold us back?
Terri Trespicio: Stop searching for your passion
What are you passionate about? You’re told these five words hold the key to a successful career and life purpose. What if it’s the wrong question altogether? In this talk branding strategist Terri Trespicio turns the ubiquitous “find your passion” message on its ear and challenges us to find our find our passion through getting out there and doing, rather than waiting for passion to come to us.
Thomas Frank: Stop Trying to “Find Your Passion”
When you’re trying to figure out what to do with your life, “follow your passion” is pretty bad advice. So what’s the alternative? In this talk ‘College Info Geek’ Thomas Frank encourages us to pursue our interests and in doing so, expand our “adjacent possible” to discover opportunities we didn’t even know were possible before.
Bill Burnett: Designing Your Life
Executive director of Stanford’s design program, Bill Burnett uses design thinking, a career’s worth of starting companies and coaching students, and a childhood spent drawing cars and airplanes under his Grandmother’s sewing machine to inform his work on how to design your life. In five findings, Burnett offers simple but life-changing advice on designing the life you want, whether you are contemplating college or retirement.
A reflective activity:
Instead of following or chasing or searching for our passion, Bill Burnett suggests that we “prototype our life” in three versions: (1) The thing you think you will do; (2) The thing you will do if option 1 doesn’t exist and (3) The wild card plan (assuming you don’t have to earn money and no one will laugh at you). You then use those three prototypes as experimental ideas that help us to explore some of our future possibilities.
Let’s see if we can apply this to your adventure experiences and write a brief one paragraph description or vision statement for each of the three based on living an adventurous life. So:
(1) What adventure experience would you like to have? Why?;
(2) What alternative adventures would you want to pursue if option 1 is not available to you? Why?; and
(3) What wild adventure would you undertake if money was no object and no one would laugh?
Take a look at your three prototypes and consider whether there are any common themes or overlaps between the three. What might your choices tell you about what living an adventurous life means to you?
So if a life of adventure isn’t driven by pursuit of a passion, what does fuel it?
Watch and Learn:
If you have worked through stations 1-5 consider the themes that those stations have explored: understanding the similarities and difference between what excites us and what challenges us; choosing our perspective and attitude; finding courage, tenacity and resilience in facing fear and failure; broadening our horizons through exploring new places, connecting with new people and embracing new experiences and expanding the boundaries of our achievement, inventiveness and creativity through experimentation and play. These are all lessons that we learn through adventurous experiences, so how do we apply them to living a life of adventure?
Watch these three short films and consider:
- Through pursuing rejection, Jia Jiang transformed it from an obstacle into an opportunity. Can you think of an obstacle in your own life that could be turned to your advantage and how would you do it?
- In writing a song that exploited his nervousness, Joe Kowan transformed his greatest fear into an essential part of his act. Can you think of a fear in your own life that you could turn into your advantage and how would you do it?
- Ben Nemtin and his friends set about seeking to fill a void in their lives with a crazy bucket list of random adventures and, in doing so, found direction, connection and fulfilment. What crazy adventure might become your starting point?
Jia Jiang: The hidden opportunity behind every rejection
Jia Jiang boldly adventures into a territory so many of us fear: rejection. By seeking out rejection for 100 days — from asking a stranger to borrow $100 to requesting a “burger refill” at a restaurant — Jiang desensitised himself to the pain and shame that rejection often brings and discovered that simply asking for what you want can open up possibilities where you expect to find dead ends.
Joe Kowan: How I beat stage fright
Humanity’s fine-tuned sense of fear served us well as a young species, giving us laser focus to avoid being eaten by competing beasts. But it’s less wonderful when that same visceral, body-hijacking sense of fear kicks in in front of 20 folk-music fans at a Tuesday night open-mic. Palms sweat, hands shake, vision blurs, and the brain says RUN: it’s stage fright. In this charming, tuneful little talk, Joe Kowan talks about how he conquered it.
Ben Nemtin: 6 steps to crossing anything off your bucket list
Ben and his friends started The Buried Life in their parent’s garage in 2006. They made a list of ‘100 things to do before you die’ and for every list item they accomplished, they helped a stranger to do something on his or her own list. What began as a two-week road trip quickly became something bigger.
Have you ever failed at something that you have since succeeded at? Can you think of a time when you faced a fear that you now no longer have? Have you ever taken a risk and survived? Have you ever been to a new place and seen things you didn’t know existed? Have you tried a new food and found you enjoyed it? Have you spoken to a stranger and made a new friend? Do ever find yourself doing something in everyday life that you thought you couldn’t do until you tried?
Each of us experiences adventure every day of our lives so what makes us different to the people we heard from in those films? Our everyday adventures are perhaps on a different scale but are the lessons any different?
We talk a lot about learning from our mistakes and failures but is it an automatic certainty that when we fail we will learn? Or do we have to draw out the lesson from our failures and put it to good use? All of the TED Talks you have watched in which people share their stories of failure are presented by people who have had the presence of mind and the inventiveness to make a successful TED Talk from their failure. So have they really failed at all? For every TED speaker talking about the lessons they learned from failing, might there be hundreds more that didn’t learn and so have not made it on to the TED stage? In Jia Jiang’s 100 Days of Rejection, Jia didn’t just seek out rejection, he filmed the process, posted it online and became an internet sensation as a result. Perhaps when we talk about living with a spirit of adventure it isn’t so much about the experiences (the doing), but the ways in which we put those experiences to good use (the being), and the lessons we bring back with us from our adventures to incorporate into everyday life.
Ben Saunders, reflecting on his attempt to complete Scott’s doomed 1912 Antarctic expedition said: “we all can accomplish great things, through ambition, through passion, through sheer stubbornness, by refusing to quit, that if you dream something hard enough… it does indeed come to pass. But I’m also standing here saying, you know what, that cliche about the journey being more important than the destination? There’s something in that. The closer I got to my finish line, that rubbly, rocky coast of Ross Island, the more I started to realise that the biggest lesson that this very long, very hard walk might be teaching me is that happiness is not a finish line, that for us humans, the perfection that so many of us seem to dream of might not ever be truly attainable, and that if we can’t feel content here, today, now, on our journeys amidst the mess and the striving that we all inhabit, the open loops, the half-finished to-do lists, the could-do-better-next-times, then we might never feel it.”
A reflective activity:
Now take a look at this diagram and consider the questions posed in each of the six circles. This is a simple walk-through of the sort of reflective cycle often used to draw out the lessons from experiential learning. There are many different forms, but they all have the same objective: To ensure that we are ready and able to draw lessons from each adventure – make some observations and take personal meaning from it – and apply these lessons both to our next adventure and to other aspects of our lives.
Find your Discovering a Spirit of Adventure resource sheet think of an experience in your own life that you consider to be adventurous. Work through the cycle using your list of RS Discoveries as a point of reference and see how many of them you can identify in your adventure experience. In each instance note down how you might evidence that Discovery (i.e. in what aspect or phase of your experience did you make or apply that Discovery).
If you were to undertake that same adventure experience again, what might you bring to it or how might you extend it to explore any of the discoveries that were originally missing?
In this way, reflecting on the adventures we experience to draw out the discoveries we have made, and then applying those discoveries to the next adventure, is how we find that there is more in us than we know. We see it through our experiences but also through applying the lessons from those experiences to new situations: Learning with a Spirit of Adventure throughout our lives.