How’s your adventure-level? It’s about feeling the rapture of being alive. Without it, we get risky and aggressive leadership.
I woke-up today with a yearning for adventure – which will likely turn into my next long-distance bike ride or something similar.
Adventure training in the British Army is defined as “Activities where the outcome is uncertain” and that seems right to me on an emotional and practical level. I truly believe that until you’ve had some physical experience that involves risk (even if that is a “managed risk”) and venturing into the unknown in some way, then it’s very difficult to feel satisfyingly alive. And it’s not just a once-only experience. It needs regular top-ups.
There have been times when I’ve experienced adventure at work, when there’s been the right combination of challenge and risk and uncertainty and even some physical challenge. But to be honest, adventure for me needs to feel the weather on my face, for my muscles to be challenged and not just my mind – and I just don’t see that happening in an office.
It’s important to consider men’s need for adventure in a work context because I’m sure that some aspects of male leadership – unmanaged risk-taking and aggressively-competitive behaviour – is a by-product of NOT being able to have physical adventure at work.
Joseph Campbell talked about the need to have physical experiences which match what we already know on the inside about how it feels to be really alive.
As he put it: “so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
Adventure is also a great way to let out our inner Wildman. Modern life has a tendency to suppress this and yet, as Robert Bly writes, unless we can release the Wildman to remind us of how resourceful and many-sided our masculinity is, it becomes harder and harder to mature as a man and act with responsibility as a leader.