My Java Journal

On Adventure: Addressing Bias And Growth

Climbing at Calabogie, June 2020 (📸 @charles.cullen23)

 

I stated at the beginning of this very interesting year, that the focus of this blog for 2020 was growth. I never expected there to be so much to draw from in only the first six months.

An Admission Of Bias

Last week I wrote about adventure. More specifically, I wrote about the need for risk and danger, physicality and fear in adventure. I have never received as much feedback from a post as I did from this last one. The feedback was neither overly critical nor complimentary. It was mostly just insightful. That is to say, they were expressions of different perspectives on adventure, and how fear and/or the unknown was experienced differently to different people.

This provided me an opportunity to consider these different experiences, these different perspectives in relation to my own promulgated view. It provided me an opportunity for personal growth; to consider adventure, and to develop my understanding of it. It offered an opportunity to broaden my own perspective and challenge a personal bias. Above all, and I am happy to admit this, my view of adventure was narrow and biased. I hope this subsequent examination shows growth and learning, and is received as an admission of a limited, or perhaps deficient, viewpoint; of bias.

In last week’s post, I examined a definition of adventure that I considered too broad. I see clearly now my shortcoming, with a bias towards extreme physicality and danger. As a result of the very percipient feedback received, I continued examining this definition, my bias, and the topic of adventure. In doing so I have come to realize that I was wrong; and that this broad definition is appropriate.

Let me expand.

What I Learned And The Related Growth

Wikipedia makes reference to criteria necessary for an experience to be considered an adventure. Jon Levy (American author and behavourist) is cited and these are what he identified as those criteria:

  1. Be remarkable – that is, worth talking about
  2. Involve adversity or perceived risk
  3. Bring about personal growth

Notably from this list, and with consideration to my, admittedly, narrow views from last week, the idea of ‘perceived risk’ really resonated with me. There truly is, I believe, (now), necessary consideration to how an experience, any experience, can be an adventure, especially when measured in relation to one’s perceptions of risk – and growth, and remarkableness.

If I was to recommend reading one article in contemplating adventure, and what constitutes an adventure, it would be this one – The Five Elements of Adventure: Authenticity, Purpose and Inspiration, by Matt Walker.

In it he offers a different definition for adventure, which I really like:

“At the core, adventure is a willingness to commit to an uncertain outcome with an open heart and a willingness to learn and engage. It is the ability to take a leap into the unknown with mindfulness and grace. Framed this way, opportunity for adventure presents itself to us everyday.”

Further, he suggests that,

“Adventure is not reserved for the extreme athlete or the daredevil. It is an attitude and lifestyle choice. It is an expression of your heart’s intention and passion for life.”

I think it is obvious at this point, with this perspective, and experienced understanding, that I needed this growth opportunity, and challenge to my bias.

The Argument For Fear As Necessary

Now, sticking with Walker’s point that adventure is defined by ‘uncertain outcome,’ he does also suggest in another article (Be Very Afraid: Uncertainty, Fear, and Achievement) that along with uncertainty, fear is also necessary; otherwise,

“… we have a safe, contained, and predictable experience; we don’t have adventure.”

In this article he presents the ‘fear and anxiety paradox’ – I paraphrase, “certainty quells anxiety, yet uncertainty is needed to fuel one’s drive [ambition].” I found particularly relatable his statement that;

“Fear is evidence you are at the edge of your comfort zone, and pushing this edge is where growth and learning occurs.”

If you have been following my blog, even casually, you will know that growth and learning are core to my value system.

Worth exploring further is his list of Five Elements which make up adventure:

Five Elements of Adventure
  1. High endeavour (thinking big)
  2. Total commitment
  3. Uncertain outcome
  4. Tolerance for adversity
  5. Great companionship
Business As Adventure

Now I did want to address the idea brought forth in some of the feedback I received, that business can be an adventure. For this I looked to history; the history of business and, more specifically, trade.

I am not going to dig too deep here on this as I think this will warrant a more dedicated examination. History, however, quickly influenced my views on business as an adventure. For example, in Jacques Arnould’s article, Man Transcends Man, he identifies that,

“The 16th century was not only the time of the first maritime explorations around the world, but also when traders and merchants embarked on audacious commercial enterprises.”

Audacious commercial enterprises. This sounds like the makings of adventure. It also got me thinking even further back, to the Phoenicians, whose role in the development of international trade, and whose shipbuilding and navigational skills (Wikipedia) could only have been achieved through adventurous spirit, and undertakings; by embarking on something that was, at least, remarkable and with perceived risk.

We may no longer, necessarily, need to sail nor navigate physically in business anymore, but the spirit is the same, as can be the risk and associated fear and uncertainty.

In Conclusion

I think, and hope that, I can admit when I am wrong. In last week’s post I offered a narrow and exclusive view of adventure. History, relativity, and psychology were helpful in broadening that view.

In the spirit of keeping these posts to a manageable size, and in keeping them as weekly offerings, I will end here. Can business be considered an adventure? What about music? Childbirth? I’d say there is an argument for each to be considered an adventure.

Was I biased towards adventure being the arena of extreme athletes and daredevils, where risk and danger were the pre-eminent factors? Yes, I was. Was I wrong? Yes, I was.

I relish this opportunity for growth and will continue to explore this in future posts. For now, I will open my heart, remain willing to learn and engage, and try to recognize that adventure exists wherever there is expression of one’s heart’s intentions and a passion for life. Fear is necessary, but fear is itself a broad subject. What seems most relevant to adventure is the element of unknown outcome. Where this exists, I will be mindful that adventure may well exist – I will just need to be more open in my consideration and definition of adventure.

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For more by Matt Walker, I will direct you to this list of his articles on Psychology Today:

Matt Walker

If my journey towards Growth interests you, then these previous posts have Growth as core to their theme:

  1. Sun Valley: Helping Me To Define My ‘Best Life’
  2. On Learning: Exploring Aristotle And The Best Life
  3. On Priority: Time To Say No And Find Focus
  4. On Health. Part 2: A Healthy Mind
  5. On Health. Part 3. A Healthy Spirit
  6. On Father’s Day: The Perfect Gift
  7. Thank You Jada. A Sad Week Of Loss, And Growth
  8. On Growth: Reconsider Focus For A New Year And Decade
  9. On Respect: Growth Through Reciprocity
  10. On Sympathy: Unexpected Growth In Loss
  11. COVID-19: A Hard Moment Of Growth For My Kids

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