The Road Less Travelled

The Road Less Travelled

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I took a group of 11 blog readers on a secret adventure earlier this month, as an experiment in self-exploration. It was an adventure that had fear and uncertainty at its very heart. They were asked to turn up to an airport with their passports, and that was pretty much all they knew. They had no idea where they were going or what would happen.

In reality I had no idea what would happen either,even though I was organising the adventure. We were all taking a leap of faith.

The questions I asked myself were:

  • Can 12 people from different places, backgrounds and thinking, come together on an adventure and learn something about themselves?

  • Can embracing fear and uncertainty help you learn something about yourself?

  • Can the very act of adventure in itself create something much longer-lasting than the time spent doing it?

Well, after this trip, I know that an adventure can do all this. The collective personal breakthroughs from the experience were astounding. It helped people join the dots in their minds in previously unimaginable and unexpected ways. It precipitated a group learning curve as steep as I have ever witnessed in a lifetime of observing how people learn. It created within a group of complete strangers a level of connection that went deeper faster than I have seen before. And this was pretty exciting for me, because it was the culmination of a huge amount of planning and thinking about how I could create an intentional experience like that.

It proved to me that we are capable of so much more when we step outside ourselves and go exploring. It reinforced the fact that true self-discovery comes from letting go of expectations and allowing serendipity to occur. It reminded me of the wonder of adventure and that it is not purely a hedonistic self-indulgence that gives nothing but a temporary high. It can be a platform from which you can learn a lot about yourself, with a long-term significance.

As a group, we were learning to conquer fears we all face individually on a daily basis. One of the greatest evolutionary cognitive biases we retain today is that our minds equate the comfort zone with the safety zone. Our brains evolved in an era where meeting new people, trying new things and exploring new places posed significant risks – and even loss of life.

These days, the chances of losing your life are extremely remote, and statistically, crossing the road or riding a bicycle are some of the most dangerous things we do. Yet our brains continue to play tricks on us by telling us we are ‘at risk of imminent death’ much more often than we are. They try to shut us down from the life we are capable of experiencing outside the comfort zone and prevent us from feeling truly alive. They subject us to the day-to-day numbness of being ‘comfortable’.

Despite what we may all feel, the comfort zone is not our friend, and uncertainty is not our enemy. We get to learn more about ourselves when fear is our guide. There is so much to be learnt from walking through the places we don’t want to go. There is much to learn from finding our edges and going beyond them.

If you want to learn something about yourself, solve problems or create things, the insight you seek rarely lies on the path in front of you. There is much more to be gained by getting out there in the world, and setting out on the road less travelled. A life of adventure offers us great, unexpected people and experiences that challenge us to think differently about ourselves and the world. There is so much out there to help us play a different game, if only we stretch beyond ourselves.

So, my advice is: Try something different. Next time you are turning right, consider turning left. The next time you go for a coffee, have a conversation with someone you would never normally spend time with. The next time you go on holiday, make it count. You may learn far more about yourself and the world that way.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

  • What personal discoveries have you made by taking a risk, changing your routine or trying something new?

  • Can you make fear your guide towards positive self-discovery?

  • What is you had nothing to fear but fear itself? And what if you chose to embrace it?


p.s. Get ready for the next Big Adventure. More details to follow next week…

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  1. I was one of the 12! I survived the adventure. I felt the fear. I connected openly, honestly and authentically with each of the other 11 – remarkable in only 4 days! And I went on a roller-coaster journey of self-discovery. So much so I have had to deliberately apply the brakes upon my return. I need time for my left-brain to catch up with my right-brain. I need to turn impulse into intention. I need to make sure I am being bold but not foolish. But in a while I will be in a place to make decisions I wouldn’t have made without the Adventure – thank you Marc. By then, I’ll also be ready for the next Adventure – bring it on!

  2. I was an Adventurer as well! I went on this journey because it sounded exciting and because I trust Marc (and I was secretly hoping to somehow be jolted into making some significant changes in my life). And what I came back with was much more than a jolt, albeit in very different ways than I could have anticipated. By fully trusting the experience that Marc and team had crafted, I found myself much more open to noticing the serendipitous little occurrences that I would have missed otherwise, which led to a significant epiphany and reframe on my attitudes toward money and the future. Rather than living from a position of scarcity and fear, I find myself now embracing a world of abundance and possibility. And along the way, I have made 11 great friends with whom I can share the road ahead.

  3. As a fellow adventurer and general trouble maker I went with a healthy dose of cynicism, which was completely blown away by the incredible people I met and the experience I had. I probably faced more fears in 4 days than I had in the last 10 years. Marc constructed something quite deliberate and rather brilliant – an experience that will stay with me and help me challenge my approach for years to come. Still stunned.

  4. I am happy to say that I too managed to not only survive the magical mystery tour, but actually thrived on it and built deeply bonded friendships with people in a shorter period of time than I have ever experienced in my life. From the build up of not knowing where I was going or whom I was meeting, through the bonding experiences with others who were also thrown well outside of our normal comfort zones, we were forced to actively confront our personal boundaries and reflect on how and why we might consider shifting them. I’ve been to Burning Man, and I’ve been on a skydiving team, but this was an adventure that gave me greater insight and allowed for deeper bonding than Burning Man, while at the same time challenging me both physically and mentally more than regularly jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Marc, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my soul for the opportunity to be a part of this.

  5. Thank you Marc for taking me on the board of the Adventure Boat. It was easily the most intense and open experiment in connecting deeply with 11 incredible people I’ve had to-date! By opening up, by sharing our deepest thoughts, fears, failures and successes – by being ultimately hyper vulnerable – I became infinitely stronger. I challenge everyone to open up and share because that’s the only way to discover the real you and find your path in life. It’s through a myriad of serendipitous sparks, human connections, stepping far outside our comfort and safety zones that we rediscover our path and build a world of unrestricted possibilities. I will stronger than ever in facing a completely uncertain world – it’s makes me tickle with excitement at the adventures ahead! If anything I’ve acquired 10 new brothers and 1 sister and have already increased my Dunbar number by ±10%!

  6. As someone who runs digital detoxing weekends, I know that getting people to switch off helps them to switch on. Undistracted by the beep, buzz and ring of our phones and the demands of everyday life, we all experienced a feeling of gaining time and space to think. The environment and experiences Marc curated also allowed for what Tony Hsieh calls a Return On Collisions as a group of people who didn’t know each other bounced ideas, thoughts and feelings off each other. I certainly felt richer for the experience and have taken a lot of the out takes forward into my daily life. One of the biggest of these is the realisation that to play it safe is a much more dangerous place than to play it adventurously.

  7. It was a privilege to be part of the Great Adventure. What struck me in particular was the instantaneous bond of trust and cameraderie that sprang into existence amongst such a diverse group of strangers. No doubt the cloak of secrecy deliberately (and I daresay not a little mischievously) engineered by Marc had a great deal to do with this. We pushed a few physical boundaries by day, and in my case at least some fairly well entrenched mental boundaries by night. Thanks to Marc for bringing everybody together in such an original way, and thanks to my fellow travellers for their openness and friendship. What an experience, and what interesting projects lie ahead.

  8. I was also on Marc’s mystery adventure. It was an amazing experience for a number of reasons. Firstly, the location was a special mix of beauty and opportunities for exploration. Secondly were the range of activities that lead to a great deal of comfort-zone expansion, open communication, and reflective introspection.

    The biggest portion of the experience for me however, was the self-selection of some genuinely fascinating individuals, who all chose to leap into the unknown. Making friendships with such brave spirits was truly special. I’m incredibly grateful to Marc for his great generosity, and for deciding to do this, just to see what ‘return on adventure’ can really bring…

  9. I too was one of the lucky adventurers who headed into the unknown and put my total faith in Marc and his plans.
    It turned out to be a very wise decision indeed.
    Marc brought together a fantastic group of people who were open to ideas and shared a passion to push themselves and help each other.
    The activities that were thrown at us gave us further opportunities to embrace uncertainty and challenge ourselves.
    On a personal note I have always dealt with fears when obstacles were placed directly in front of me but I have not always sort out fear and
    challenged myself to fulfil my full potential. This trip reminded me that if you embrace your fears focusing on a positive outcome then you can overcome anything!!!!
    This realisation has energised my passion and I am now embracing life more than ever…..Thank you Marc in particular and the other adventurers for your contributions to my experience.

  10. I was one of the fortunate travelers on this adventure and I have to say these days are among the best days of my life. As I like extreme sports a lot, I was not faced with fear – but I used the chance to show my true self and talk about what I really care about. The positive warm vibe in the groups was amazing. The trust we created so quickly, I felt so welcome as a human being despite my grandiose thoughts for the future, hearing impression from many great and experience awesome people.
    This adventure gave me a glimpse of how I want to structure my social environment – I feels like having a open and authentic communication like this, is how human being are supposed to interact.
    After the trip I was suddenly quite sad, as if a long lost friend was suddenly gone. But then I remembered what I learned, which gave me a boost to reach out to people more openly than ever before (scary!), and a few days later I was asked to help build such a community, that interacts in this positive manner.
    I feel lots of love and the want to give – with science from my hearth.
    Thank you all

  11. The trip sounds so amazing, I’d love to hear more details. I did a Tough Mudder event last summer where I had to jump off a 15 ledge into muddy water. I was terrified and almost backed out. But I eventually threw myself off the ledge. Once ashore all I wanted to do was get back up and do it again! I certainly learned a good lesson that day.

    Thanks for another awesome post Marc, you rock!

  12. Sounds fascinating adventure, but no details.

    Spill the beans boys and girls!

  13. I have the same sense of trepidation every time I get on the London Underground, not without cause either!

  14. How does one get on the list Marc? I’m up for an out of the box experience. In fact, I think if I don’t create one for myself by Sunday I might go bonkers! Adventure, change of pace, getting out of myself, believing in the process, feeling connection to MORE. I crave it sometimes but I don’t give myself the permission always to act upon the craving. Thanks for this beautiful experiment. I’ll report the results of mine, too. 🙂

  15. I can’t wait to hear all about it.

  16. I went on the trip on short notice, it was an incredible start to 2014. I was taken well out of my comfort zone, something I really needed. We ate great food and wine flowed freely, we had many deep conversations and synthesised new ideas. At the end of the trip I had a new found clarity for my project. Just go, GO, GO

    DO IT.

  17. Pretty awesome Marc. I just happened upon your site and this blog about your wild adventure. That is called getting it done.

    Best, John

  18. What personal discoveries have you made by taking a risk, changing your routine or trying something new?

    I once was having a bath and thought “darn it, I’m going to pull the plug and just lay here instead of getting out”. As the water drifted away slowly it was quite a sensation. The thing I discovered was some months later when reading in a book about self-discovery (there’s hundreds of them out there). It suggested changing your routine and trying something new (don’t they all yawn) by laying in a draining bath! I discovered that I didn’t need these books, blogs or sagas. I just needed my own spirit of adventure.

    Can you make fear your guide towards positive self-discovery?

    Only if everything you need to self-discover requires a fear to be overcome (unlikely). If you have fear as a guide, then you may as well have a drug-pusher as your pal. Mmmmmm dopamine. It’s easy to confuse personal discovery, revelation and optimism with the effects of dopamine. The test will be how you feel in the months to come. All (uhuh, all) of the people I meet who have been on a fear-busting adventure of self-discovery are ‘back to normal’ pretty soon. I’m not counting the people who during the rosy drug induced state make a life changing decision (not recommended).

    But to be constructive, I prefer the personal guide to self-discovery that is ‘discomfort’ and ‘difficult’. These lead me where I need to go. Fear just fools me in to thinking I’ve done something.

    What is you had nothing to fear but fear itself? And what if you chose to embrace it?

    Easy one: Will you live to be 200?

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