I keep the video below in an Evernote folder titled Don’t Forget. A calendar reminder then jarringly alerts me every month to check my Don’t Forget folder.
This interview of Reinhold Messner, arguably one of the most famous mountain climbers and adventurers of today’s generations.
Every time I feel myself getting bogged down with work, or stressing about some event in my life, I re-watch this video and am immediately reinvigorated.
What really makes me stop and engage in some introspection is Messner’s notion that true adventure has a few criteria:
Fear thrives on inaction
Similar to paralysis by analysis, fear flourishes when you do nothing but dwell on it. Fear is like an elephant sitting on your chest, which every time to think about, grows. It is action and momentum that push the elephant off and every step towards the thing you fear causes it to shrink.
I was recently listening to Jamie Foxx being interviewed on The Tim Ferriss Show and one line stuck with me.
What is on the other side of fear? Nothing.
As a parent, Jamie asks this question of his kids often and the answer is always the same. Nothing. Nothing is on the other side of fear, it is just a roadblock to action, and once you get passed it the things you fear happening rarely come true.
Stop worrying about the infinite amount of things that could happen, and focus on the real obstacles in your way.
The art of success is painted in with failure. The more you fail, the better you are at recognizing when you may fail. Eventually, you are so good at knowing what fails, that you default to success.
Messner’s skill as a high-altitude climber was not courage and bravado, it was his acute ability to recognize when the conditions were not in his favour. Where many of his contemporaries would let their ego and drive push them into situations that got a few of them killed, Messner was able to listen to his failure-honed instincts and bail out, or change course.
It is through collecting failures that you learn the path to success.
Adventure is a solitary endeavour, but it doesn’t have to be lonely
True adventure only comes when you are responsible for every aspect of your survival. Otherwise you are just a tourist. It is only when you are forced to make decisions where the stakes include life and death do you truly test the limits of who you are and what you are capable of.
However, as I mentioned above, fear held in, multiplies. Fear shared, divides. Sharing adventures with people is one of the strongest bonds you can create with another human. Adversity reveals character in the same way the pressure creates diamonds.
Sport is not adventure
I always struggled with this dichotomy during my days as a gym owner. Over those 7 years I watched a training methodology designed to make you a more capable human, deviate into a sport. Slowly, people lost sight of why we were training as the focus became the points, scores, numbers, and competitions.
I have been guilty of confusing the two. Striving to get bigger numbers or higher levels of difficulty and forgetting that mastery is in the journey, not in the results.
If you are counting time or points, you are playing a game, not having an adventure. Adventure is about personal development, testing your mettle, becoming aware of who you are. Adventure does not award points. It awards experiences.
If you’re interested in learning more about Reinhard Messner and his philosophies on life and adventure check out his book: Reinhold Messner: My Life at the Limit (Legends & Lore)
Also published on Medium.