Amongst all the emails I receive from people dreaming of expeditions and adventures, the most common by far is “how can I find a sponsor?”
Close behind that are questions about setting up websites and getting published. I worry that some of the people who ask about these things are missing the point rather. For surely the principle point of going on an expedition or long journey is because you really, really want to do it. You are doing it for yourself. Granted, some trips do require financial sponsors. But expeditions do not need to have self-promotion as their primary goal.
I’m not denying that big adventures are selfish projects. I’m aware that there are more useful, altruistic things to do in life.
But it is also true that the benefits and rewards and memories and lessons and experiences will make an enormous impact on your own life. So, ultimately, you are doing it for yourself.
Why then do people [myself very much included] feel compelled to act out their expeditions in the public domain? Answers probably include money, vanity, seeking praise and the respect of others.
The irony of this is interesting. For if you go and do something purely for personal reasons -if you do something you love and do it well- then you are very likely to achieve impressive things. Doing something because you are desperate to do it (and don’t give a damn what anybody else thinks) is the best way to accomplish extraordinary things. And, because it all came from the heart, you will communicate your story enthusiastically and eloquently.
Think about it. You have accomplished something fantastic and difficult. You tell the tale with honesty and passion. You can do no better things to win the fame and fortune and adulation you secretly crave! But these are only side dishes, incidental to the real rewards of personal satisfaction and the privilege of having done something difficult and done it well.
I have written about this subject quite often (Nobody Should Blog On Their First Expedition, The Rules of my Expeditions, Why I Have Returned To Self Publishing, Seeking Positives From a Bad Review, Why I Won’t Climb Everest). But I feel it is important. Particularly at a time where, in the words of Bradley Wiggins, “So much of British culture is built around people who are ‘famous’ for doing nothing”.
Let’s focus first on our passions. Do what you love. Do it often. Do it well. Really well. With innovation and imagination. Fear Regrets not Failure.
And let the rest look after itself. When I set off round the world on my bike, aged 24, I did it because I wanted to. I was driven by fernweh, a yearning for far-off places. I did it cheap. I didn’t get famous or on the telly. I didn’t give a toss, because I was out there -out in the world- having bigger adventures than I had ever even imagined.
So do the trip YOU want to do. The rest will come.
Dance like nobody’s watching.