How to be a life explorer
As a kid I remember long summer afternoons on an archeological dig in the backyard – dreaming of the fame that would result from the antiquities I would uncover.
I remember visiting my father’s office – and exploring all the hidden secret spaces up the back stairs and poking through dusty cupboards looking for treasure.
By high school the exploring became more sophisticated – often focussed around what degree to do and what career to pursue. I remember trying on the hats of a mixed bag of options and walking for a while in those shoes.
And as I progressed through adulthood the opportunities to explore grew fewer and centred around significant life events where the world of possibility once again opens up – getting married, having children, applying for jobs, starting a business, planning holidays, moving cities.
These are of course all stressful in their own way. But I’ve found one of the wonderful things about times like these is finding a moment to put aside the stress and fear of the unknown and becoming once again an explorer – finding new things about the world, about life and about myself.
Putting on an exploring hat suddenly makes it OK not to know how things will turn out. And its enormously freeing to let go of these expectations just for a little bit.
I’m still in the start-up phase of my business and it’s hard not knowing the best direction to take or from which activity success will come. There are many different roads, tracks and paths I could follow.
- I could take the structured “received wisdom” path with defined 3 and 5 year goals and roadmaps and strategies. Many would advocate that as a successful path in business – and it is.
- I could take a more organic and intuitive approach – letting things evolve on their own – letting the business direct me and being open to new opportunities as they arise. This is a more unconventional approach yet I suspect successful for many people. I have seen this type of business grow successfully.
- I could be an entrepreneur
- I could go into partnership with like-minded colleagues
And I’m sure there are numerous other ways to proceed I’ve never even thought of. But there is no roadmap for me to follow like there is in a traditional career path in the corporate and professional worlds.
It’s up to me to decide and make up as I go along how I want to direct things – or not. Really in not knowing the best way forward I’m freeing myself up to possibilities that may never arise if I limited progression to a single prescribed path.
Really what I’m doing is exploring again. I’ve found that glorious childlike space where I am revelling in trying on different hats for size. Walking in different pairs of shoes. Which one works for me? Which one doesn’t? What else is around the corner that might be a great solution?
So here are my ten rules for exploring:
- If something isn’t working then it’s time to try something else. Look around and see what other options you have. Where else you might go. Be like Indiana Jones and find creative and sometimes scary ways to make it to the other side.
- Take risks. Follow paths and try things out even when you don’t know where they lead. Don’t be afraid of wandering down small dirt tracks. Sometimes, just sometimes, they open out into amazing vistas of startling and unexpected beauty.
- Don’t be surprised or upset when things don’t work out. Sometimes promising avenues end in dead ends that you don’t see coming. Take it as an opportunity to find an even better way that you would never have thought of without this setback.
- Be flexible. Be open to unexpected possibilities and opportunities. Some will go nowhere – but some will take your breath away.
- Use all your senses and all your resources – ask people for advice, go to courses and seminars. Resources are there to be used – explorers use torches and other technical equipment for a reason – they help open the way to places you couldn’t get to on your own.
- Think about what’s working for you – and keep doing that. Celebrate it. And move on because you aren’t there yet. Keep exploring till you find the next piece of the puzzle.
- Know yourself so you can work out if an opportunity is right for you. Finding something wonderful might just be the edge of a waterfall – take care you don’t get sucked over by mistake.
- Share your stories and find others on a similar journey. Listen to what worked and what didn’t work for them. Wisdom and experience are important yardsticks.
- Drink and eat and look after yourself. You’re in this for the long haul. Sprinting won’t get you to the finish line quicker it will just exhaust you. Take your time and notice with wonder the glorious adventure you are having.
- Rest and sleep. Taking time out from exploring can give your brain the break it needs to make amazing connections and breakthroughs.
For some time I’ve being trying to live by these mindsets – and more and more I’me realising I never even needed the roadmap. Because I’ve written it myself.
So good luck on your adventures – and I hope exploring your world is as rewarding for you as it is for me. See you around.
- Posted in: Personal Development