As many of you know, I love adventure. Whether donning a wingsuit and soaring over the Utah canyons, scuba diving in search of sharks, eels, and shipwrecks, taking a month to solo backpack across multiple national parks, or whitewater canoeing the lakes and wild rivers of Northern Saskatchewan, I’m down for it!
It’s not about the adrenalin (although sometimes that’s there). It’s not about the danger (although I won’t try convincing you that everything I try is 100% safe). No, it’s simply about trying new things and experiencing new sensations. It’s about testing myself, pushing myself, challenging myself.
What many may not know about me is my tremendous fear of heights, my irrational and nearly paralyzing fear of sharks, and my discomfort at being totally reliant on just myself. It’s true, my bucket list has been filled and checked off and filled again with facing phobias, pushing myself, testing my limits (physically, emotionally, and mentally). And in many cases, I’ve found my limits, and I’m not even going to try and convince you that my limits are beyond your own. I’m sure some are…and some are not. It doesn’t matter. They’re my limits.
As we have moved into the New Year, several of my colleagues confided in my that instead of resolutions, they were focusing their year around one term, one concept that would drive their actions, decisions, and reactions. And so, in 2018, my word is “Adventure.” But it’s not what you’re probably thinking…So, let me explain.
When I mention adventure, to many images of epic voyages come to mind. “You mean climbing Mount Everest sorts of things?” Could be…but it’s broader than that. For others, the term evokes thoughts of extreme thrill-seeking. Again, it could be…but it’s quite a bit more expansive than that. And still others view this as the unfocused realm of 20-somethings, with endless energy, reckless abandon, and a not yet fully developed sense of personal responsibility. I can assure you that is not what I mean by it.
But defining it isn’t always so easy. You see, what’s adventurous to some may be routine to others. Where as some might find a summit of Himalayan peaks to be the ultimate adventure, for others, their personalities might prefer a nice hike, cooking a new recipe, or even just journaling to be far more adventure than they’re used to undertaking, at least not at this stage in their life.
So, when I use the term “adventure,” I’m really simply talking about learning to be a better, stronger, more effective person (a leader) by identifying one’s own boundaries, one’s own comfort zone, and then taking deliberate steps to push those boundaries a bit further than you’ve previously done. Because when we challenge ourselves, whether it’s physically, mentally, emotionally, or intellectually, that’s where growth happens. Combine that with personal and deliberate practiced reflection, and real development as a leader is not only possible, but it’s unavoidable.
So, my challenge to you over the next several weeks is to look inward, explore those nooks and corners of your life where you’ve nestled in comfortably with your previously established boundaries and limitations. And begin formulating a plan to expand your horizon, to push those boundaries even just a tad beyond where they are today. There’s another word for what I’m asking you to do…I’m asking you to consciously and deliberately grow in the next year. Conceptualize what that will mean for you in 2018, how you’ll get there, and who you’ll enlist to help you and keep you accountable for continuing on when first the unexpected happens, but also when the expected happens. And figure out how you’ll measure that growth, as that’s just as important in evaluating just how far you’ve come.
If you’re not a reader (or no longer a reader), perhaps your adventure for the year will be engaging in a commitment to read one book a month (Cosmopolitan and Sport Illustrated don’t count). If you’re a tv-dinner kind of diner, perhaps taking an evening cooking class or just picking up a new cookbook and resolving to try every recipe by the end of the year. Perhaps your adventure is simply to do more reflective contemplation than you’ve done in the past, or trying yoga for the first time. And maybe, just maybe, 2018 will be the year you’ll join me in the sky for your first skydive, or under the sea for your first foray into scuba. Perhaps it’s tagging along on an overnight camping trip along the Pacific coastline, sleeping under the stars for the very first time…I’m happy to show you that kind of adventure, as well!
The point is, adventure to me and adventure to you can be very different things. But let this calendar year be one in which your own sense of adventure, your own desire to grow as an individual, a partner, a team member, and a leader, allows you to face your limitations and expand your boundaries. For if you do, I can promise you that you’ll look back on this year as a great one…And what an adventure it will be!
Trevor Nagle is an executive coach and consultant with Stewart Leadership, an international leadership, teaming, talent development, and change management consulting, coaching, and training company, which has been building leaders for over 35 years.