Man alone, of all the creatures of earth,
can change his own pattern. Man alone is architect of his destiny. The greatest revolution
in our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of
their minds can change the outer aspects of their lives.
- William James
Stated simply, the "Adventure
Attitude" is a paradigm through which we can see the challenge of
change with optimism and start to seek out the opportunities that change creates.
often, we see change as a threat, something to be feared. We are so consumed with the need
for certainty and predictability, that we fail to accept that change is the only real
constant in our lives. As a result, we often dont seek the opportunities that change
creates until we are forced to change by some external influence beyond our control, be it
economic crisis, political realignment, or personal tragedy.
certainly the case on Everest, when we were forced to confront tragedy so early in the
climb. We had to accept the inevitability of those deaths. We had not caused them by our
own negligence. We had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. But there were
lessons to be learned.
In fact, as we
struggled to pull the expedition together in the aftermath of the tragedies, we started to
question whether we may have been trying to climb Everest the wrong way in the first
place. We began to think that we had spent five years preparing for our expedition in the
comforts of our homes, building a plan that was based upon a series of assumptions about
what it would be like on the mountain half a world away. And when we arrived at the base
of Everest, we had not checked to see if the assumptions were correct. We had assumed that
the assumptions were correct and had become complacent, developing a tunnel vision that
prevented us from looking around us, from seeing what was going on around us on the
mountain. Because of this, we had not noticed how bad the weather was, or how dangerous
the conditions had become. In the days after the tragedies, the Sherpas who know Everest
better than anyone, told us they had never seen the mountain in such dangerous conditions.
It was the
accidents and the resulting trauma that convinced us of the necessity of changing our
plan. We had no choice. Ten of our strongest people were no longer with us; four people
had died and six of our leading climbers had left the team. The tragedies had literally
shaken us out of our complacency, and we had been forced to develop peripheral vision to
see everything around us as we struggled to keep our dream alive.
A few years
ago, while researching a book we commissioned called One Step Beyond: Rediscovering the
Adventure Attitude, the author, Alan Hobson, asked me to describe the meaning of the
word adventure. The answer has defined my life ever since. I replied: "Adventure
isnt hanging on a rope on the side of Mount Everest. That is just one arena where we
chose to pursue our goals. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to daily
life facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our physical and
mental resources against the unknown and, in the process, discovering our own unique
It is this
generic approach to life that is at the root of all One Step Beyond WorldWide programs. I
believe that the use of adventure as a metaphor for life can create a new paradigm for us
all as we struggle with rapid change. And we are confident that the "Adventure
Attitude" philosophy offers a light at the end of the tunnel as we
contemplate the precarious transition into the next millennium of challenge.
In the spring
of 1986, a second Canadian expedition went to Mount Everest to attempt to climb the West
Ridge from the north side of the mountain in Tibet. On that team were six members of our
1982 expedition, some of whom I had met departing from Base Camp after the tragedies. Also
on that team was Sharon Wood, a twenty-nine-year-old mountain guide from my home town of
Canmore, who was soon to become a key associate in the One Step Beyond WorldWide
On May 20th,
1986, after months of struggle and just as night was falling, Sharon and her climbing
companion, Dwayne Congdon reached the top of the world. In doing so, she became the first
North American woman to achieve that amazing feat and only the sixth woman in history to
Sharon Wood does not look like the kind of individual who could climb the worlds
highest mountain. She is a slim, attractive woman, who is now the proud mother of two fine
boys. When she speaks before audiences of business executives today, many are moved to ask
the question of what it was that got her to the top. On such occasions, Sharon answers
with these words: "I discovered it wasnt a matter of physical strength, but a
matter of psychological strength. The conquest lay within my own mind to penetrate those
barriers of self-imposed limitations and get through to that good stuff, the stuff called
potential, ninety percent of which we rarely use."
that what Sharon is talking about is attitude. Clearly, attitude is the key to
success. We can have all the education, all the knowledge, all the experience. But if we
carry the wrong attitude in our minds, we are doomed to failure. The academic world
agrees! A recent study of successful people by the Carnegie Institute concluded that
eighty-five percent of success was attributed solely to mental attitude.
perception of the challenges we face in life is often more significant than the reality of
the challenges themselves. In the words of Laurie Skreslet, who was the first of our team
to reach Everests summit: "Its not what you go through in life that makes
you what you are; its how you react to the world youre going through."
It is this
generic approach to life that forms the roots of the "Adventure
Attitude" philosophy. A new paradigm that enables
forward-looking people to meet the challenges of change with optimism and to deal with
uncertainty as an exciting adventure. It is an approach that can be summarized by using
the acronym: A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E.
In summary, the
"Adventure Attitude" philosophy offers nine keys to
happiness, fulfillment and success in life, no matter in what arena you are operating or
what adversity you are struggling to overcome.
Here are the
nine keys of the "Adventure Attitude" philosophy:
A - Adaptability
D - Desire
V - Vision
E - Experience
N - Natural
T - Teamwork
U - Unlimited
R - Risk-Ability
E - Exceptional Performance
When I look
at these nine basic principles, it becomes evident that achieving success in life is
really quite simple. But we live today in a very complex world, where events on the
opposite side of the earth over which we have no direct control are inexorably changing
the way we live our lives. It is easy to become distracted and to lose focus.
final analysis, it is important to realize that the "Adventure
Attitude" philosophy has been crucial to the evolution of
society over the centuries. As the world has changed throughout history, so have the
people who struggled through those times. But they moved ahead despite the uncertainty.
challenging times, so must we!...
"Attitude is the key to
success - not skill, not knowledge, not education - ATTITUDE!"
- John Amatt