"What would life be if we didn’t have the courage to attempt something new?"
~ Vincent Van Gogh
Last weekend I found myself in Las Vegas with a group of my best friends in order to support our team at their conference basketball tournament.
While we were there, we decided to reach out to another one of our long-lost friends, Bob, who happens to live and work in Las Vegas.
I had not seen or talked to Bob in about 15 years, but after spending 15 minutes with him, it was as though we had seen each other only yesterday... laughing about old times we spent together (while performing "stupid human tricks" back in college) and inquiring about other long lost friends.
After some time, the name of "Karl" came up in our conversation.
Karl was an individual cut seemingly from another pattern. Upon graduation from college (actually I’m not certain that he even graduated), Karl embarked upon a personal voyage, spanning every continent on the planet seeking out new adventures and experiences.
Some might say that Karl was on a quest to try and find his meaning of life... but I tend to believe that Karl was the ultimate adventurer who was unable to find peace staying in the same place for too long.
Bob and I raised our glasses of beer to Karl and wished him the best wherever he happened to be at this moment of time.
Bob then confessed to me that he greatly admired the adventurous spirit of Karl, only because he himself lacked the courage and intestinal fortitude to live his own life in such an unconventional fashion.
"I wish that I too had the courage to live an unconventional life..."
Wow!!... poetry and beer...
In the week’s time that’s just past, I must have reflected on those words no less than a dozen times.
How often in our own lives have we stood in front of the mirror and silently wondered how we ended up in this place.
Most of us have no real regrets about the way we lived our lives but I imagine that we secretly ponder the "what ifs" but knowing deep inside that we have neither the option nor the desire to try and relive our lives again.
A great majority of us are happy and content with the paths that we’ve chosen and we take full responsibility for the choices that we have made along the way.
The question I am always asking myself is not what could I have done in the past but rather, "what else could I be doing - today - that could help me live a richer and fuller life?"
Life can be predictable... a quiet walk in the park on a still morning... it can be measured and controlled.
We like our routines and schedules. We gravitate to "normal". We embrace the mundane. We seek safety and the certainty of a sure bet.
When people ask me how my trip was (business travel that is)... I generally respond by saying that my trip was "unremarkable... just the way I like it"...
A business trip is not an adventure...
An adventure, on the other hand, should create a lasting impression upon one’s mind, helping to create memories that will live a lifetime within our own heads. It is a thrill ride that takes us out of our comfort zones and makes our hearts beat faster as we feel blood race throughout our bodies. Our journeys into the unknown make us feel more alive and push us to experiment within uncharted waters.
Adventure takes us to new places and exciting worlds of intrigue and possibilities. It produces outcomes that can be calculated but yet are varying and unpredictable.
Mostly, adventure is about overcoming our fears and biases, helping us to grow as individuals. By overcoming our fears, we will grow more and more comfortable with the unknown and providing us with the lessons of experience when adventure enters our lives uninvited.
Many years ago, when I started my first business and entered the realm of entrepreneurship, my friend Jim provided me with a great deal of mentoring and counseling.
He described my situation as a novice mountain climber scaling the face of a steep slope. Every bit of energy was devoted to clinging onto the cracks and crevices with fear-based paralysis, not desiring to fall to the rocks below.
But after some time being on the ledge, one grows more and more accustomed to their current situation... after a while, the fear subsides allowing you to operate freely.
In short order, you’ve become so familiar with your situation that you end up opening a snack shack on the cliffs, providing refreshments to the others novice climbers who are hanging on for dear life.
As with most things in life... adventure is a gradient with a vast array of varying degrees.
Literally risking life and/or limb just to get your blood moving is a poor way to live your life. We are, however, all born with a sense of curiosity. As children we are quick to try and experiment with new things not knowing what will happen.
As we get older, our lives are soon populated with fears and phobias, and our quests of exploration are curtailed as we seek safety near the center of the bell-shaped curve.
In school, we see National Geographic documentaries showing the pitfalls of straying too far from the herd as the stray wildebeest ends up as dinner for the lions.
And throughout our lives, be it in our homes, school, church, or places of work, we are overly indoctrinated with rules and regulations in which to live our lives. Should we choose to break the rules, we are constantly reminded that disciplinary actions will be meted out, be it in this world or the world beyond.
It’s no wonder that we sometimes live our lives in a constant state of fear.
It takes a special individual who decides that they are afraid no more.
These are the risk-takers, the entrepreneurs, and the unconventional...
...people we admire or secretly hope to become...
The people like Karl, who have their name toasted among friends, wishing that they too had the courage to overcome their fears to live an unconventional life...
Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we foster the pursuit of acting courageously in order to overcome the conventional...
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