BE GENTLE TO OUR AMAZING PLANET AND POSITIVELY CONTRIBUTE TO OUR WORLD
It is because the earth is so amazing that these challenges are so appealing, yet at the same time, the urge to pursue them is an inherently selfish one. I aim to leave our planet in no worse state than I find it as an absolute minimum and will make every endeavour to leave it in a better condition in any way I can. However, leaving the planet in a state of status quo feels an inadequate trade off, and so for each expedition I will give back to the world by sharing my experiences with 10 schools, helping young people to share in the experience and to help them look beyond their own perception of their limitations.
A DREAM IS ALL I HAVE UNTIL I BUILD SOMETHING OUT OF IT
Since I was a kid I have been fascinated by the extreme corners of the world. Polar habitats and exploration, high altitude climbing and the oceans with their extreme conditions that cover the vast majority of our planet and yet are so relatively unexplored have always intrigued me. To visit these places and undertake challenges at them was the dream that I didn’t dare to dream and so my fascination was limited to reading books and learning as much as I could. I was a 70cm adventurer, living vicariously through explorers and adventurers 70cm away from the pages of the books where their endeavours were recounted. It was only later in life that I realised that I could actually do something to challenge myself in these environments. That I didn’t need to keep following the path that I had been sleep-walking along for so long. And when that realisation hit me, I knew that it was the right thing for me with more certainty than I have ever know anything before and once you have felt that, not taking action to make it a reality is only cheating yourself and I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I hadn’t done something meaningful about it. And so here I am, living the dream I didn’t dare to dream for long.
IF I DON'T FAIL I AM NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH
There is an old truism in the world of sales that if you don’t hear ‘no’, you aren’t asking enough. Doing something that I know that I can do is not a challenge. Taking that same thing and trying to do it better or faster is slightly more of a challenge, but picking something that the very thought of it can wake me up in the night in a cold sweat questioning whether I have the minerals to do it - that’s a real challenge. There are many skills that I will need to acquire and I am confident that I can do that, but some of these challenges are so out of my comfort zone that I genuinely fear failure and for some of them the price of failure is very high. I will most likely fail on my way to these challenges and fail many times at that, but it is how I handle these failures that will determine whether and how I evolve and adapt.
As a species we must be at or close to peak stuff and the relentless pursuit of stuff made me unhappy. Doing things on the other hand brings me immense enjoyment and satisfaction. Sometimes though we need stuff to enable us to do the things that we enjoy and my aim is to take only the stuff that I need to safely enjoy the challenges I am undertaking. Anything else is just hard earned inefficiency that needs to be carried, often in inhospitable environments, and this makes no logical sense, so I will go simply but adequately.
TIME IS NOT THE MEASURE OF ENJOYMENT
The first question people typically ask me is ‘what time are you aiming to complete [insert challenge] in?’ We live in a world where we are governed by time. Too often we are rushing to get to jobs we don’t love, squeeze in a workout ‘because we have to to stay fit’ and then somehow shoe horn in time with the people we love. I am not a runner, or a rower, or a cyclist or a paddle boarder, but I am lucky enough to be able to do all of these things and more, and I do them because I enjoy them and they are fun, not because they are my identity. I am setting out to undertake some challenges because they are exactly that, a challenge. I want to do things that help me to explore and push my limits and for me, this can’t be measured in time to completion - simply put, you can’t measure fun.
I WILL FACE MYSELF HEAD ON
The places I intend to go, in the world and in myself, have nowhere to hide. I can’t hide behind my ego or what I used to be, only what I am at that very moment facing that very challenge. It is in these moments that we learn about ourselves and from this learning comes growth. I will not hide from myself no matter how uncomfortable that will be on occasions
THERE IS NO 'I' IN TEAM BUT THERE IS IN SELFISH
Challenges of this nature are inherently selfish. The degree of dedication and focus that is required sometimes creates a spinning vortex of self absorption that ignores those around us. No-one else may have the blisters or the sore muscles or have to stand in some extreme conditions facing the biggest challenges I will ever face, but I did not get there alone. There is a support team that gets me there, for some of them it is their job whilst for others it is out of pure love with them making very real and very significant sacrifices for me to be doing these things. These challenges may be big, but they aren’t bigger than the people whose love and dedication allows me to be there.
These challenges are the realisation of a dream that I didn’t dare to dream for a very long time. Instead of focusing on that time as lost time, I am thankful for the realisation that this is my calling and I am thankful for what that time enabled me to learn and achieve. I will take this thankfulness with me on every challenge because I am unbelievably fortunate to be able to undertake them.