When I was young, I would run barefoot through the jungles of Guam, being chased by bad guys, imagining I was on an Indiana Jones-style adventure. The world was filled with possibility, excitement, discovery, exploration, and a delicious sense of danger and the unknown lurking in the darkness. It was fun, play, and curiosity.
Adulthood and the responsibilities of family and work all did their best to beat out this sense of adventure, and create a sense of routine and discipline in me. But I’ve always still become lit up by a sense of adventure. One of the best discoveries I’ve made is that my entire life can be a huge adventure. And it can be done with one simple shift: embrace the thrill of not-knowing. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples …
The Adventure of Your Commute
So you’re driving to work in the morning. Ho hum, boring, you’ve done it a few thousand times, no one likes traffic. So maybe you try to make productive use of it by listening to an audiobook or making calls, squeezing use out of this boring time. But what if, instead, you made it into an adventure? What if you looked for the excitement of things you didn’t know about the drive?
For example, you might drive a new way, exploring side roads. You might explore mindfulness practices on each drive, seeing what you can learn as you drive. You might use the time for contemplation and invention, seeing what you could create during the enforced silence of the drive.
The Adventure of Your Work Day
We tend to just start each work day as if it were another day, launching into messages and quick tasks, meetings, and calls, busy work and distraction. But each day is a blank canvas, waiting for a splash of colorful paint!
We tend to just start each work day as if it were another day, launching into messages and quick tasks, meetings, and calls, busy work and distraction. But each day is a blank canvas, waiting for a splash of colorful paint! Each day is an opportunity to be seized, a life lesson waiting to be learned, full of possibility and the unknown!
What if you could ask questions throughout the day, not knowing the answer but excited to find out more? What if, instead of running from the uncertainty of difficult projects, you could embrace the not-knowing of those tough tasks and savor the deliciousness of what might emerge from them?
For example, writing a book chapter for me might cause me to want to procrastinate because I don’t know what to write or how people might perceive me once I publish the writing. But instead of running from that uncertainty, I can say, “I have no idea what to write — how can I play around with it and see what might happen?” Or “I have no idea what people might think of this … let’s find out!”
The dangers lurking in the darkness are then turned into the thrill of potential discovery. The fear is then excitement, wonder, a chase and a beautiful battle.
Seizing Every Moment, with Joy
One of my best friends, Scott Dinsmore, died a couple of years ago on Mt. Kilimanjaro, heartbreakingly toppled in the prime of his life during one of his many adventures.
Perhaps the thing I loved most about Scott, other than his hugely generous heart, was his sense of profound adventure in everything he did. The two of us would go on a 2-hour run together through the hills of the Bay Area, with huge smiles on our faces and joy at being able to witness the incredible beauty of life with a fellow adventurer. Everything we did together was filled with possibility and excitement. We ate bagels and drank beers with joy, because it was life filled, heart-lifting, wonder-inducing. We ran to the top of a mountain to see the fire in the sky, and our hearts would weep at the beauty. We would talk about our businesses not with a sense of frustration but of wondering what we could create. We would order everything on the menu because who knew what delights hid behind each menu listing?
This is the sweetness that can be found in each moment if only we have the audacity to seek, to be curious, to explore. The joy of adventure is right in front of us if only we have the temerity to notice. If only we have the courage to savor and appreciate, once we have noticed.