3rd Station – We see it through digging deep


Find yourself a quiet space in which to work. You will need access to the internet to watch some short films and TED Talks and a paper and pencil for making notes.


The excitement and exhilaration of an adventure experience typically demands we overcome obstacles, face fear, take risks, and bounce back from failure: In order to experience the thrill of adventure, we must first dig-deep, and the deeper we dig the more we discover. But what are we digging for?

Watch and Learn:

Choose and watch at least three of the short films and TED Talks listed below, each of them capturing the experiences of someone who finds adventure in physical challenge in the great outdoors. As you watch, consider the following questions (and make notes):

What It Takes to Be an Adventurer | National Geographic

Fitz Cahall, storyteller and creator of The Dirtbag Diaries, a grassroots podcast dedicated to the sometimes serious, often humorous stories from wild places, shares how following your passions in life—as the Adventurers of the Year have done—can lead to great personal rewards.

Ben Saunders: Why bother leaving the house?

Explorer Ben Saunders wants you to go outside! Not because it’s always pleasant and happy, but because that’s where the meat of life is, “the juice that we can suck out of our hours and days.”

Debra Searle: Choose Your Attitude 

Debra Searle MVO, MBE is a truly inspirational woman. A professional adventurer, author and BBC presenter, Debra first hit the headlines when she set out, as a novice rower, to row across the Atlantic with her husband. After he had to be rescued she continued alone and rowed 3000 miles from Tenerife to Barbados.

Chris Hadfield: What I learned from going blind in space

There’s an astronaut saying: In space, “there is no problem so bad that you can’t make it worse.” So how do you deal with the complexity, the sheer pressure, of dealing with dangerous and scary situations? Retired colonel Chris Hadfield paints a vivid portrait of how to be prepared for the worst in space (and life).

Caroline Paul: To raise brave girls encourage adventure

Firefighter, paraglider and all-around adventurer Caroline Paul explains how adventures in childhood prepare us to become brave and gutsy adults, tells us why she is pro-bravery rather than anti-fear and presents failure as a win for resilience.

Bhakti Sharma: What open water swimming taught me about resilience

Dive into the deep with open water swimmer Bhakti Sharma, as she shares what she learned about resilience during her personal journey from the scorching heat of Rajasthan to the ice-cold waters of her record-breaking swim in Antarctica. “In the middle of the ocean, there is nowhere to hide,” she says.

Now take a look at the notes you made and consider any common themes you noted down.

These talks and interviews featured people undertaking challenges that required physical fitness, stamina, and strength. But does it therefore follow that the lessons they learnt from expeditionary adventure can only be found in physical endurance or can they be discovered – and applied – to other adventure experiences?

Watch and Learn:

Watch at least one of the following three films in which the author JK Rowling, technology entrepreneur Elon Musk and researcher and author Sasha Shillcutt share how their own experiences of fear and failure have taught them to dig deep and find their courage and resilience. As you watch, consider the following questions (and make notes):

Elon Musk: Against all odds

Elon musk discusses challenge, risk-taking, failure, persistence and self-belief. He says “It’s not as though I have the absence of fear – I feel it quite strongly. But there are just times when something is important enough, you believe in it enough that you do it in spite of fear.”

JK Rowling: the Benefits of Failure

In this extract from JK Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech she talks about the benefits of failure. It is impossible to live, she says without failing at something, unless you have lived so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you fail by default.

Sasha Shillcutt MD: the Art of Failing Forward

In this talk, Sasha covers how when we are vulnerable in sharing our professional (and personal) failures, we become more resilient. We allow ourselves to learn from our mistakes, we open diversity in solutions by talking to others, we avoid failure blindness, and we release self-shame.

Consolidate with a task:

A common theme in stories of adventure is that our ability to “dig deep”, to demonstrate resilience, tenacity and mental toughness, is discovered through the experiences that don’t go according to plan, rather than the ones that do.

Even the word Adventure was originally a Middle English word derived from the Old French adventure meaning “destiny,” “fate,” or “chance event.” Most often the lessons we learn from adventure don’t come from following a planned map to our destination, but from the chance events, fateful encounters and unexpected changes that divert our journey along the way. Ask yourself: Is a successful adventure one from which you emerge at the end undamaged, or is that not really an adventure at all?

Now think of an experience in your own life when an unexpected challenge pushed you out of your comfort zone. Perhaps it was an expedition or adventure that didn’t go to plan? Perhaps a theatrical or musical performance or speech that you were unhappy with? Maybe a mistake you made that continues to haunt you? Consider for a moment how you felt at the time and how you feel now when you reflect on that experience, but don’t dwell on it. Instead see if you can turn the negatives into positives (e.g. “I failed at X” might become “I learnt what not to do next time I try X” OR “I was really frightened” might become “I had the opportunity to be brave”).

Write a short letter to your former self, imagining that you could read the letter at the time. Can you identify any positive outcomes that ultimately came from the experience? What might you say in your letter to help your former self dig deep and find resilience at a time when it mattered most? Has the experience shown you something about your inner strength? Has it helped you to grow in ways that will serve you well in the future? How? Is there anything about the experience, or the way in which you handled it that you can be thankful for, or proud of? Share it with your former self.

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