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Derek Loudermilk

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The adventure mindset: why adventure should be a key component of your career

Adopting a bit of the Indiana Jones adventurer mentality can actually be good for your professional development. 

As a professional adventurer and host of the Art of Adventure podcast, I’ve been surrounded by some of the world’s most remarkable adventurers. These are people who have crossed continents, climbed the highest peaks, set world records, survived harrowing escapes and lived to tell the tale.  

Many of them go on to become remarkable business owners as well. What makes these adventurers able to succeed in so many different pursuits?

On my AdventureQuest trips, I take entrepreneurs into the wilderness to do things like climbing volcanoes, surfing, and canyoning to help them achieve personal and career breakthroughs. 

I’ve discovered that tapping into an adventure mindset may be one of the best ways to get ahead in the careers of the future. 

So let’s take a look at ten traits of an adventurer and how you might apply those to your own career.

Adventurers leap into action

In one of my favorite scenes in Indiana Jones, someone asks how he will stop the bad guys. In reply, he yells: “I don’t know! I’m making this up as I go”, as he runs off to hijack a plane. 

I love the spirit of this, as taking action is the only way to make things happen. If you can start taking action, and get good feedback, you can quickly adjust your effort and you will be twice as far ahead as someone who waited on the sidelines.

Adventurers are mentally tough

Angela Duckworth, the author of Grit says that perseverance is one of the greatest predictors of long-term success. 

When an adventurer breaks a rib on a mountain, gets stranded in Antarctic sea ice, or crash lands in the Sahara Desert, they do whatever it takes to complete their adventure. 

In your career, you need to integrate your successes into your psyche to give you the confidence and endurance for the next level.

In this modern era of quick and easy distraction, people have a tendency to give up trying after just a few minutes. For those who can complete long and challenging projects, you will set yourself apart from the 99% of people who give up along the way.

Adventurers tell good stories

Adventure helps you enroll your customers and teammates in a compelling vision. ‘Want to go have an adventure?’ is one of the world’s most exciting questions. 

How can you make your project, product, or work feel like an adventure? For every good adventure, there is a call to adventure, a mentor and new tools to help you along the way, the overcoming of obstacles, the final epic challenge, and your return as a hero. 

Use this type of story when you talk about you career or your business. Great storytelling is an essential skill for leadership.  

Adventurers celebrate their achievements

Whether it is summiting a peak, reaching the pole, or finding the lost city that is the moment they confirm that it has all been worth it. 

Adventurers also appreciate the little bits of joy and wonder along the way. This provides them with their incentive to keep pushing their limits for hours to months of exploration. 

We are hardwired to be adventurers. When we solve a problem we get a surge of dopamine, which makes us happier. 

In your career, you need to integrate your successes into your psyche to give you the confidence and endurance for the next level. By appreciating things along the way, you train your brain to find bright spots and focus on what works.

Adventurers get crazy ideas and then get obsessed with making them happen

You might call this embarking on an epic quest. In your career if you stop just because you don’t know how to do something or you can’t see all the steps, you will be confined to small opportunities. 

First, figure out what and why you are doing something and then worry about the how. Obsession makes it easy to get out of bed – it pulls you into action rather than having to use willpower to get going.

Adventurers are confident

The confidence of an adventurer comes from his faith in his own resourcefulness and his ability to connect with anyone. 

These skills are trainable – you can learn to build better relationships by being generous and understanding people, and you can learn resourcefulness by consistently getting out of your comfort zone and practicing solution-oriented thinking.

Adventurers are good at gathering key information 

They might know about war zones, avalanche conditions, or hidden passages that make their journey easier. You too can build relationships with people who can give you key insights and shortcuts. 

These people will become your mentors and guides. Learn how to ask questions that dig deeper to uncover the most valuable information.

Adventurers hone their intuition

The same skills that let you face down a charging bear in the wilderness will keep you safe from muggings in the sketchy part of town. 

In your career, there is lots of noise that can get in the way of your intuition – the things we think we should be doing. To leverage this deeper intelligence, you can simply start by understanding your physical body and observing your feelings.

Adventurers try things that have never been done before

This is the difference between incremental improvement and transformational change. 

According to Stephen Johnson in his book Wonderland, throughout history, the cutting edge of innovation lies wherever people are working the hardest to keep themselves and others amused. We are hardwired to be adventurers. When we solve a problem we get a surge of dopamine, which makes us happier. 

Adventurers are honest about their situation

When Aaron Ralston got his arm trapped by a boulder, he eventually accepted that to survive, he needed to cut off his own arm.  

Don’t like office politics? You still might need to operate in that system to be effective within an organisation. 

Don’t like losing your customers to the competition? Figure out why it is happening and change something to get them back. 

Adventurers focus on what they can control and learn to operate within their reality

What are some of your own adventures that you can draw on for inspiration? Which of these traits of and adventurer would make the biggest difference for your own career? What are the next steps for you to work on improving that skill?

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like Who are you under your suit? How curiosity and adventure can replace fear.

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