You wouldn’t even stand a chance.
Ever since he was a young boy, Daniel Boone would often find himself escaping the normalcy of daily life within the woods. It was within nature, he found the most joy and deepest states of solitude there is to be had. He would spend days on end hunting for animal hides and meats from beaver, deer, all the way to bears (yes, this legend would intentionally go one-on-one with bears). In regards to nature, he’d say:
Nature was here a series of wonders, and a fund of delight.
You could abandon this man in the middle of an unfamiliar forest with nothing but a mere knife and you’d be able to trust he’d have no trouble surviving. Given the amount of time he willingly spent in the woods, it’s no surprise that he had become a master woodsman.
That being so, his ventures seldom came without roadblocks. Not from the forces of nature, but from the native Indians that settled the surrounding area. It wasn’t unlikely that he’d spend weeks on end trapping hides just to be robbed by a scouting group of Indians.
After expending an immense amount of energy harvesting skins to make extra cash for his family’s welfare, one would imagine Boone to crumble in despair after having all his hard work stripped away from him in a single moment.
Au contraire. Boone would stoically pick himself back up and go back about his business as if nothing had happened. He loved the sport of adventure so much that he saw such roadblocks as a means to do more of what he loved. He didn’t care about the outcome of his work, rather it was the process and journey of what he was doing that was enough to fill his heart.
Boone was perhaps one of the greatest pioneers, frontiersmen, and adventurers to have ever lived. It was due to his insatiable thirst for adventure that we remember his name today hundreds of years later as the man who set the foundations for the settling of Kentucky beyond the 13 colonies.
He blazed a trail through the Cumberland Gap–a notch in the Appalachian Mountains located near the intersection of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee–through the interior of Kentucky and to the Ohio River. It was through this trail, known as Wilderness Road, that a pathway was paved to the future settlement and further exploration of the western United States for the years to come. Without such curiosity and the need to discover, Boone would have simply been a common man — forever forgotten in the knolls of time. Without his need to explore, settlement and traversal into the western United States would have been greatly delayed.
That being said, it’s clear that curiosity is a powerful driver to human performance, self-discovery, and societal progress to which Boone had acknowledged:
Curiosity is natural to the soul of man and interesting objects have a powerful influence on our affections.
Boone’s story isn’t isolated either. We witness such depths of human achievement similarly attained through nearly every great mind that has ever lived.
No, not every great person was an adventurer in the same sense that Boone was, but they were all adventurers of the mind and spirit — exploring their curiosities to the utmost degree. Adventure, in essence, takes many forms.
For instance, Elon Musk wouldn’t have gotten to where he was today in building revolutionary technologies across transportation, space exploration, clean energy, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence if he didn’t have a sense of adventure. Musk is an explorer at heart. He satisfies his quench for adventure by tackling life’s most difficult problems and unexplored frontiers through a curiosity that he fulfills from reading books, hands-on experience, and putting himself in an environment where he’s surrounded by brilliant minds that he can learn from.
Similarly, you have Apple’s founding engineer, Steve Wozniak, who spent much of his youth building computers for fun. He was driven by the desire to explore and understand what makes a great computer. Everything he did was out of a desire to not build amazing computers but simply to satisfy his longing for adventure within computing.
If that wasn’t enough, you also have the author Robert Greene who wouldn’t have been able to deliver timeless tokens of brutal advice and wisdom through books like The 48 Laws of Power, Mastery, and The Laws of Human Nature if he had never ventured into human history with a curiosity for what made the highest-performant individuals from Cleopatra to 50 Cent so successful at what they did.
The Problem at Hand
So yeah, you probably get it. Adventure is important! But why?
Well to better understand the importance of adventure, we must first look at the lack thereof.
For instance, just a few years ago, all I wanted was to be great at what I did. I wanted to be the best programmer. I wanted to be a formidable athlete capable of going to the Olympics. I wanted to be a genius.
Yet, despite my desire to do such things, I expected them merely to come as if such opportunities would present themselves to me out of thin air. I knew I had to work hard, and I did, but I never willed myself to sit within the discomfort of exploring my curiosity by venturing into the unknown.
I’d read articles about how to become a genius, how to become a high-performer, and how to achieve my wildest dreams yet I never took action on any of those things. Such tokens of advice they gave were to read books, be curious, manage your time, and be willing to sacrifice comfort to get where you want to be. However, with such valuable advice presented to me, I would still say things like ‘I’m already curious’, ‘I can achieve great things without sacrificing my time playing video games and watching Netflix’, and ‘why would I read books when I can simply watch a movie?’
Truth is, I was making excuses. I was in denial. I wasn’t willing to embark on a great journey out of fear that it would take me nowhere.
Many of you may say that you don’t have any hindering or crippling fears that bar you from success but in truth, you’re probably in denial too.
You can’t explore your curiosity and be truly adventurous without seating yourself within that discomfort that your dreams require of you. You too have the fear, not that you won’t meet your desired outcome, but that you’ll walk down a path that’ll ultimately lead you nowhere and grant you no substance.
You’re much too focused on the outcome. Focus on the process. It’s the journey that fills your heart, not the destination.
It was because of this stagnation that I would always fall short of greatness as I saw it. Such lack of adventure can lead you to become nothing more than a sitting duck, waiting for your time to come. Perhaps you’d start your journey just to stop short of achievement and become seduced by the ‘next best thing’ — like a monkey swinging aimlessly from branch to branch without any direction. As Lao Tzu once said:
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Know that every goal you yearn for requires an overwhelming sense of persistence and patience. No shortcuts. No highways to glory. It demands a willingness to not only be compliant to take that first step but to maintain your focus on every single step that follows until you reach maximum escape velocity from where you are to where you want to be.
By being unwilling to take that first step in your thousand-mile expedition, you’ll position yourself in a place where you won’t be able to move forward as much — or at all for that matter. You won’t be able to actualize your dreams brewing in your mind. You’ll do nothing more than just sit, waiting impatiently, for your time to come. To quote Helen Keller:
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
Adventure Demands Far More Than Just Curiosity
Steve Jobs once said:
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.
In essence, creativity isn’t something you can develop by focusing on a single thing. You have to recruit what you know and what you experience into your daily workflow to truly think differently.
We remember Jobs as being the mastermind behind Apple’s success, but what you probably didn’t know was that Jobs was an explorer on multiple different spectrums. He ventured on a spiritual journey through India where he converted to Buddhism, taking the concepts he learned and applied them to the foundational values of Apple. He sat in on a calligraphy course that heavily influenced the beautiful, typographical design of Apple’s computer fonts. He took LSD to which he said was among the “two or three most important things" he ever did in his life.
None of these things seem like they would have a practical application to Apple at first, but when you look at the type of man Jobs was and the beauty behind his products, it’s apparent that he wouldn’t have been able to innovate without being able to tie those experiences back to his work.
When you are intentional about exploring your curiosity, you find yourself discovering not only a ton about yourself but the change that you can make in the world. You understand more and therefore can do more, tying all of your experiences back to what you do.
But it’s not enough to merely be just curious. You need to be adventurous.
Curiosity is that spark that catalyzes you to dive deep into something you don’t know and figure it out. It’s what makes you want to learn more about the world and what you can do to improve it.
An explorer sits with that curiosity. You do more than just satisfy that hunger, but you keep traversing the levels of understanding no matter where it takes you. You have an idea of where this rabbit hole might lead, but you also garner the understanding that the process will bring an unexpected ending. That unknown doesn’t deter you, but rather it excites you. You get lost in the journey, the process of creation and learning, because that climb to nowhere is enough to satisfy you.
When you adopt the mindset of the curious explorer, you’ll find that you just might discover new ways of thinking. You may see something that no one else has seen before. You might come up with an authentically new idea based on not only what you’re working on, but the unintuitive connections that you tie from seemingly unrelated experiences that you have.
The explorer learns that everything is connected.
In essence, the curious explorer unlocks a new, unique way of looking at the world. They create an otherworldly space where creativity is easily grasped, ideas grow like blades of grass in wide-open plains, and the potential to succeed comes as naturally and fluidly as a flowing stream of water.
That being said, be an explorer in the same way Daniel Boone was. Find connections to create between what you do and the experiences you have as Steve Jobs did. Get lost in the beauty of your craft as Steve Wozniak did. Take action upon your curiosities as Elon Musk continuously does.
Take that first step and embark on a great journey of your own — tackling the fear of the unknown with the utmost servitude and excitement. All it requires of you is taking that first step and focusing on every succeeding step afterward. Focus on the climb, not the peak.