We all start out as explorers. From the day we enter the world, our mission is to learn what we can about our environment and the people who inhabit it. Our very survival depends on it. When our quest for discovery is thwarted by our lack of ability, we get ourselves onto learning a new skill. Even as tiny babies, once we realise our view of the world is too narrow, we figure out how to broaden our horizons by teaching ourselves to sit up, crawl, stand and eventually walk. And we do so not by reading a white paper or setting up a 5-point plan, but through trial and error, falling down, making mistakes and sheer bloody persistence. And with each new milestone, a whole new world of wonder, interest and possibility opens up to us. Even when we tire of the physical discovery, we’re off exploring in our imagination, riding dragons to magic lands and successfully dealing with all manner of perils along the way.
But at some point in the process of growing up, influenced by our personality, our role models and our life experiences, we start to lose our curiosity about the world and our inherent desire to explore and discover what lies beyond our immediate sights. At some point we stop doing new things, exploring new possibilities, trying and failing, growing and learning, because we fear uncertainty, the pain of falling down and the humiliation of failure. Before long, we’re satisfied with what we know, how far we can see and the things we can do.
How would your life be different if you regained the thirst to explore, the curiosity and the grit that consumed you as a toddler learning to walk? What one thing would you be willing to try that until now you have resisted or put off because of a fear of failing or a fear of falling?
See if you can make a list of 10 things, and pick one to actually work on that has high appeal and feasibility. Here’s some suggestions:
- learn a skill – speaking French, snow-boarding, latin dance
- take on a physical challenge – climb the Sydney Harbour bridge, go cage diving with sharks
- tackle a fear – public speaking, social anxiety, learn to swim
- explore the world – go someplace you might get lost, absorb yourself in a different culture
- open up to someone – say how you feel, share something personal, be honest
- go on a journey – climb Mt Kosciusko or Mt Kilimanjaro, walk the Kokoda track.
To re-claim your inner explorer, you don’t have to climb Mt Everest, pull a sled across Antarctica or be the first person on Mars. You just have to decide to do something that will challenge you in some way – mentally, physically, emotionally or socially.
But why make ourselves vulnerable, risking physical injury and emotional pain? Any intrepid explorer, from small boys to Edmund Hillary, will tell you it’s about discovery. I have no argument with that. But my personal adventures, from trekking to Everest Base Camp to competing as a visually impaired downhill ski racer, have taught me that the most important discovery to come from exploring, is what you learn about yourself.
When you’re out there exploring, you’re challenging yourself in new ways, exploring the limits of the external world as well as your internal capabilities. You’re learning new skills, strengthening your character, developing resilience and discovering what you’re capable of. Sure, pushing yourself to try new things might result in you falling over or missing your goal, but that’s how we learnt to walk. So why not start living boldly, go where you’ve never been before, and experience the exhilaration of discovery. I promise what you’ll discover will be truly amazing!
If you need help switching to your own personal discovery channel, call or email me to discuss how a short series of coaching sessions can support you to explore beyond your limits and discover amazing things.