ADVENTURE: a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome; participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises.
Entrepreneurship is an adventure. You must be bold, accept that you are taking on risk and that the outcome is unknown and possibly hazardous. Having been on many polar expeditions to extreme environments I have realised that you don’t have to go to a remote part of the world to have an adventure – you can be adventurous every single day of your life, its about your mindset and what you believe is possible.
Polar adventures – I have been on expeditions to the Magnetic North Pole, Geographic North Pole, skied across the Greenland Ice Cap and an expedition to Antarctica helping to lead 35 young people from 25 countries, plus a dog sledding expedition later in 2016 to Greenland.
Leadership adventures – I was Deputy Expedition Leader, taking 120 young people from around the world, on a 3 month expedition to Chile; I also founded, grew and sold a business, and led the Certification program for WEConnect to help women entrepreneurs in Europe to connect with global multinational contract opportunities. These have all tested my leadership capabilities in different ways as I needed to be able to inspire people to go “into the unknown” with the belief that it would be worthwhile to do so.
How does adventure help you be a better entrepreneur?
- Acceptance that you cannot control everything
Often entrepreneurs start a business to have control of their destiny, and as the business grows they can be reluctant to relinquish that power and delegate to others. I learned on my polar adventures that “mother nature” is generally in charge, and you cannot control the weather conditions, which have a major impact on the likelihood of your success. By realizing that we cannot and should not control everything, it is easier to delegate and play to your areas of strength.
- Making decisions despite uncertainty
In business we do have to make decisions with imperfect information, and that can be an advantage to get ahead of your competitors or to go to market without all the research completed. I have learned from my adventures that if you are indecisive, and don’t take action, you are likely to get cold, frostbite and could die. So doing nothing is not an option. When you do something at least you learn, and can then make changes.
- Keeping a positive mindset
When you start to think you can’t – you won’t! The cold is a killer, and it can get to you really quickly. If you begin to think that you can’t keep going, or you are feeling tired, then your mind will cause your body to slow down or not perform at its best. It’s the same in business, when you face a set back, learn to look at the situation with a positive focus, to see the upsides just as easily as the downsides. Keeping positive will also inspire others in the team to keep going too.
What if people are not naturally adventurous?
- Find your motive for action – motivation literally means “motive for action” so be clear about why you are doing something. It will help to keep you going when you face some of those challenges I have already described.
- Ask yourself – what is the worst that can happen? Then if you can live with the answer, then say to yourself – well there’s nothing really stopping me is there……and be prepared to take action. That action brings results and then the results can be motivating, and the positive cycle goes on….
- Remind yourself that if you wait for everything to become known then others will know those things too, and you may have missed your opportunity.