People Need Adventure to Thrive

Do you have enough adventure in your work life? Does leadership sometimes feel like a slough rather than a joy? Do you provide adventure for the people you lead?  In today’s world our brains tell us to avoid risk as we become more addicted to the ease of smartphones and the safety of repeating what we know.  Meanwhile our hearts and souls yearn for the wild and exploration of the unknown.  Leadership comes from the heart and soul.

Imagine our lives without adventure. Sadly it may not be that hard.
Adventure takes us to higher places even in our daily lives.  It can be found everywhere if we only stop to look!

Adventure takes us to higher places even in our daily lives.  It can be found everywhere if we only stop to look!

When I began my leadership development practice, I kept returning to the outdoors as a fun and useful aspect of Cairn Leadership Strategies.  I had taught and developed leaders indoors for years, and I knew going outside would improve the experience and efficacy of training. Yet until now, l never thought of adventure as an imperative for leadership and leadership development.

On a trail run, where most of my best thoughts surface, I came up with the slogan “Adventure with a Purpose.”  We all want adventure, and for busy people running businesses, non-profits and organizations adding purpose seems like a good way to help validate taking time to explore a little.  It seemed like a win win.

On a rope team knowing where to be can mean the difference between life and death, yet everyone has to stay so far apart that they cannot communicate.  Sounds a little like leading a global team, right?  How could this analogy help you enjoy that challenge?

On a rope team knowing where to be can mean the difference between life and death, yet everyone has to stay so far apart that they cannot communicate.  Sounds a little like leading a global team, right?  How could this analogy help you enjoy that challenge?

Now after listening to countless friends, clients, and acquaintances, I am convinced that adventure is not a nice to have differentiation for Cairn.  People I listen to pine after their youth and the freedom to explore possibilities rather than discount them. People dream of breaking free from self-imposed prisons of responsibility.  A deep need for adventure simmers at our very core. In reality, humanity has sought out adventure since the beginning of our time. Adventure is one of our deepest-seated needs. Certainly adventure fits on top of Maslow’s pyramid of needs, but it also lies instinctively at the very base.  Without acceptance of and even seeking after adventure, our ancestors could not have fulfilled their basic needs for food, water, and sex!

Our earliest ancestors had a nomadic drive to follow food sources and to hunt.  They needed to move and explore to find the best herds and literally avoid starving to death.  Since then, adventure has fueled human conquests and refinement. Curiosity, the scientific process, discovery of new lands - all adventure.  The most breathtaking alpine ascents and the possibility of curing cancer - adventure.

People thrive when they seek out and embrace adventure.  That is why we have placed it at the core of our leadership development at Cairn Leadership Strategies.  Dan Pink, a leading writer on motivation, proposes that three things lead to intrinsic motivation- purpose, mastery, and autonomy.  Let’s look at these a little closer.

Clinging to bare rock hundreds of feet above solid ground forces us to confront our values, hopes and fears in a visceral way.  How often does your team truly get in tune with what drives them?

Clinging to bare rock hundreds of feet above solid ground forces us to confront our values, hopes and fears in a visceral way.  How often does your team truly get in tune with what drives them?

People need a Purpose to thrive.  We need to believe in what we do beyond simply punching the time clock.  A worthwhile purpose helps us overcome the most daunting of obstacles. Purpose is also the nexus of an adventure.  Adventures have to begin with a purpose, even one as simple as exploring new ideas. Expeditions, scientific discoveries, mythical treasures or employee motivation all provide the impetus for leaving our comfort zones to embark on adventures.

Desire for growth almost always accompanies adventure as well.  The journey of Mastery sustains us and motivates us. Humanity has an innate need to grow and learn, to master skills and knowledge.  This need is demonstrated by our exponential growth as a society.  This quest for growth leads to, and is in and of itself an adventure!

Stopping to smell the... well... avalanche lilies in this case, isn't a luxury.  It's a need.  That moment grounds us in what's important, why we are on this earth. 

Stopping to smell the... well... avalanche lilies in this case, isn't a luxury.  It's a need.  That moment grounds us in what's important, why we are on this earth. 

Autonomy should appeal to anyone reading this who deals with a micromanaging boss.  More importantly, our need to strike out on our own has led to advancement of our race for millennia.  Our heroes take their own paths in everything from exploration to social justice.  While leaving the safety of the known can scare us, deep down we yearn to depart from the known path and confront the world in all its glory.

Without adventure, humans would not be the way we know them today.  Can you imagine our lives without adventure? Sadly it may not be that hard.  We fear change and risk, so we sit in boring jobs to take home our paychecks.  We deny our intuition and stay silent when we see a better way.  Medical studies have even shown that a lack of adventure leads to depression and anxiety.  People joke that sitting is the new smoking, but that lack of adventure leads to serious health ramifications not to mention the dramatic decrease in motivation.

In short, adventure makes us better people, workers, leaders, and family members.  We find and feed our growth mindset rather than fixating on fear of failure. We become more joyful and more able to cope with setbacks.  We get in touch with our vitality and contribute with critical thinking and motivation to our teams. We embrace the process of innovation and become joyful leaders- something the world needs more of!

Commit to making room for adventure in your life, don't just survive, thrive!

Commit to making room for adventure in your life, don't just survive, thrive!

Everyone needs adventure to thrive.  Everyone needs great leadership to grow.  Cairn Leadership Strategies does both! Join us to explore your possibilities!