Life is short and the opportunity to embark on adventures is increasingly how we choose to fill our leisure time.
By 2020, the number of people choosing to go on adventure holidays will increase by 46%. Adventure is becoming part of our lifestyle as experiences become more important than possessions for the millennial generation.
Whether paragliding in the Pyrenees or hiking through the Himalayas, ‘adventure’ is a personal choice. However, what is clear is that laying on a sun-lounger with that latest Stephen King novel is no longer how we want to spend our leisure time.
The Myers Briggs personality scale says all adventurers have two common characteristics. They score highly for ‘Sensing and Perceiving’, using senses to understand their environment and basing decisions on facts and information rather than intuition.
Where adventurers start to split into new camps is in their preference for thinking or feeling. ‘Thinkers’ want knowledge to understand how the world works. ‘Feelers’ base their views on inner belief and values.
Both introverts and extroverts can be equally adventurous. However, this characteristic may determine whether your adventurer will be team based or individual (or maybe at best with a really close friend).
So, what does this tell us? Basically, that ‘adventurers’ aren’t all thrill-seeking adrenaline junkies. The mind of an adventurer can be the pain-staking mountain climber who minutely plans and tests every move, or the base-jumping daredevil who pulls the rip cord moments before instant death. Whatever your mentality, there’s an adventure for you ….
The human body comes in three basic types. Ectomorphs are long, lean and struggle to build muscle. (Think Basketball players, climbers and cyclists). Endomorphs are larger, pear-shaped and store fat easily (rugby players, weightlifters and field athletes). Mesomorphs are the ones we all envy with their fat-burning metabolism and ability to build muscle at will. (They no doubt have perfect teeth too). This is where the swimmers, gymnasts and body builders are found.
The shape nature gives us can influence the type of adventure we’re naturally inclined towards.
For instance, trekking in frozen lands requires reserves of body fat. Arctic explorer Pen Hadow explains;
“I was 92kg (14st 7lb) when I left, but 75kg (11st 12lb) when I got back. The month before I go on a trip I eat lots of carbohydrates – oatcakes, brown rice and potatoes – at every meal. I concentrate on gaining up to two stone in weight ….”
Equally, the sheer rock face is no place for excess baggage. As a review in the Journal of Human Kinetics reported, rock climbers often have lower body mass indexes and body fat percentage – unsurprising when the energy expended in a single climb can equal that of a fast half marathon!
The simple fact is, whatever your physique, you can be an adventurer. What’s important is preparation; hydration, diet, exercise and rest are all vital considerations before pushing your body beyond the usual demands of the Friday team meeting and building a PowerPoint.
Adventure is sometimes defined as any activity that takes us out of our comfort zone. And that ability to control fear goes by another name. Bravery.
In the words of philosopher Charles Caroll Everett;
“As the coward sees danger where there is, practically speaking, none, so the reckless man does not see it where it actually exists. The really brave man does not overlook the danger. He does not let his mind dwell upon it: but if it exists he knows just what it is.”
Fear is the body’s natural defence to danger – and our ability to control it is, for many, what makes any adventure worthwhile. In the words of World Champion Base Jumper, Valerie Rozov;
“Of course, you get scared. It’s a natural human emotion. Your body is telling you that you are doing something dangerous.”
So, for many adventurers, the greatest journey is the one they take within themselves – whether it’s leaping from the side of a mountain, or into a business pitch.
Hand in hand with bravery goes ‘resilience’, that ability to maintain our equilibrium in the face of adversity. It’s a quality that’s just as valuable in the workplace (where we might call it ‘handling pressure’) as in the Amazonian rainforest.
As described in the book 'Extreme. Why Some People Thrive at the Limits’; "Resilient people have an approach to life that is characterized by realistic optimism, self-confidence, a sense of humor, the ability to stay focused under pressure, not being easily defeated and finding meaning even in negative experiences."
Obviously, the opportunity to build resilience has a greater benefit than our next camping expedition in Nepal. For the modern adventurer – and entrepreneur – it’s a vital life skill, because without that ‘heart’ we might never discover what we’re really capable of.
Controlling attention is a useful skill for any successful adventurer. In business, we might call it ‘focus.' In fact, for some adventurers, that intensity of focus to the exclusion of all else is the greatest feeling in the world. Psychologists call this state ‘Flow.' At work, we might call it being ‘in the zone.' It’s when we become so utterly absorbed in our task that nothing else matters and we lose track of time.
For many adventurers, whether it’s plotting a course through the Alps (or even climbing one), sailing across the Pacific or cycling through China, finding that state of flow is the reason they do it. Achieving a state of ‘flow’ can be a reward in itself.
An individual’s ability to handle boredom is key to ‘focus.' A tool psychologists call the Boredom Propensity Scale (BPS) confirms that people differ widely in their propensity for boredom.
Some people just get bored more easily – and this can have an effect on the type of adventures they will undertake. Short, hi-octane, exhilarating and individual activities such as sky-diving or bungee jumping may be more suited to the boredom-prone individual with a short attention span.
People who are better equipped to control their attention are also better suited to group activities and those that require focus over a longer timescale. Just as in business, the way our brains work influences the decisions we make and the types of venture we might succeed in.
For some, it’s discovering new locations. For others, it’s discovering ourselves. For some, it’s about building skills and knowledge. For others, it’s about building resilience and courage. The reasons so many of us choose to go on an adventure – and the adventures we choose – can be as diverse as our personal attributes. What makes us all adventurers is our desire to experience something new.
Just as entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes (and the correlation between adventurers and entrepreneurs is surprisingly close), the spirit of an adventurer can be simply described as the desire to set a goal and discover more about ourselves and the world around us on the way to reaching it. After all, isn’t that what life (and business) is all about?
Adventure is all around us. For many modern entrepreneurs, there are real parallels between adventuring and starting a business. Whether you are the meticulous planner who considers every upside and downside before taking their next calculated step, or the kind of serial entrepreneur who regards every failure as a learning experience, the success of your startup business enterprise is closely aligned to your appetite for adventure. Discover more about how to put the Adventure into Venture.
A FREE guide on ten incredible places to explore if you have the pioneer spirit.