Last year I was invited to have a conversation with Dan Zehner, host of the online Podcast, Anthem of the Adventurer. It was an enjoyable experience conversing with him about adventure and adventuring. Initially, of course, he wanted to know more about my Subaru Outback; however, once that was out of the way, we got into a deeper conversation. And, as most of these kinds of conversations go, time ran out and we really didn’t get as deep into the subject as I would have liked. [Listen]

First, I think it is important to truly understand the word adventure. I have a friend from my childhood that loves extreme outdoor activities yet has told me more than once that he has no interest in adventure. To him, the word represents what we experience when things go awry.

I’m not convinced that adventuring results in a bad experience. Rather, my view on the word centers on the unknown, or the experiences we uncover along the way that weren’t expected, often causing us to shift our focus and direction.

According to our old friend, Merriam-Webster, adventure is defined as:

ad·ven·ture

/adˈven(t)SHər,ədˈven(t)SHər/

noun

  1. an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.
    “her recent adventures in Italy”

daring and exciting activity calling for enterprise and enthusiasm.
         “she traveled the world in search of adventure”

verb

  1. engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.

“they had adventured into the forest”

The definition above utilizes the word “hazardous” which suggests that taking an adventure or adventuring comes with significant risk. From my perspective, this isn’t necessarily the standard, rather, it is the exception. To me, to adventure you must acknowledge the possibility for hazard and prepare for challenges that may present themselves and preparation is key. Though we cannot plan for every possibility, we can at least be prepared. We can be ready for health and safety concerns that may arise with proper first aid and special skills to ensure stability of a situation.

For instance, a few years ago I was backpacking in the bottom of Fossil Creek Canyon in Arizona. After breakfast at camp, my partner and I decided to hike down to a waterfall. Along the way we passed by another camp. A couple with two kids and two off-leash dogs had set up just down the way from where we were camping. As we walked by their two dogs charged and attacked me. One bit me in the groin and tore a quarter inch hole in my scrotum. We immediately returned to our camp. My partner admitted first aid on the wound, packed our gear, and we hiked to the car to head to an emergency room.

We could have never expected our excursion to end so quickly and with such an emergency. Things like this can happen. There is no way to know what or when it will. All we can do is plan for things to go sideways and be prepared for the challenge.

If we only look at adventure from a risk perspective, we miss out on the romanticism of the word. Adventuring has tugged on the hearts of explorers throughout human history. It has been the catalyst for every advancement to our species. Those who dare to dream and dare to take action on those dreams are the trailblazers who’ve led the way for societies to flourish.

The discoveries and resulting inventions that have transformed our world would never have transpired without the question of ‘what if?’ These two simple words define the romantic nature of adventure and are the Anthem adventurous individuals march to.

If we look at adventure as the acceptance of risk in exchange for truly living life, the word then represents an Anthem for how to exist and an embrace of the unknown. It is a bold stance to step outside of our comfort zone for a chance to realize greatness.

When I decided to name my YouTube channel 4XPEDITION Adventurer, the usage of the word Adventurer was more deliberate. As an expert in shaping perception, my goal was, and still is, to attract people who are inspired to achieve greatness in their lives. Those who are willing to take some risks, step outside their comfort zones, and live even just a little more boldly. Achieving greatness is a noble endeavor no matter what that looks like to each of us. Greatness can be realized in the simplest of tasks. It is a state of mind. It is an act made with intent. And, it is often met with a challenge to grow beyond who we are.

This is why my brand isn’t about extremes. You see, greatness doesn’t require that we ascend Mount Everest. And, in the words of the father of my good friend Matt Wells’ (TEAM 4X Member #35), it doesn’t require that we “have the whole cake…rather, just a slice”. But, to be an Adventurer, we must be willing to take action and face the potential for risk to have that slice. We need not conquer the world to achieve our dreams.

When applying adventure to our endeavors into the great wide wilderness, we must face risk from the start. Every decision involves risk. Fortunately, risk isn’t foreign to any of us. Every decision in our lives involves risk. The world is full of unknowns. Unknown territory can be an exciting place to find ourselves. Around every turn can be an opportunity to discover something new about ourselves and the world around us.

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So, to me, adventure is a state-of-mind. It is a line we draw in the sand and make the conscious decision to step over with a backpack hung over our shoulder. Within that pack, we step forward prepared to face the unknown with the right tools for the job: hope, passion, insight, intellect, integrity, honor, and respect for ourselves, for nature, and for those we meet along the way.

Choosing to become a Founding Member of TEAM 4X took risk. And for that I am profoundly grateful. To decide, you likely calculated the risk versus the opportunity to discover the unknown. You stepped over that line in the sand and volunteered to be a trailblazer. And, every time you access the member portal and share a story from your life, make a comment on someone else’s post–sometimes even to just stir up conversation to keep things going–or tell someone about your involvement with TEAM 4X, you are paving the trail just one step further for those who follow behind you. You are building a community of like minds.

I may have been the catalyst and the one initially holding the machete cutting through the thick jungle brush, but you knew I couldn’t do it alone. So, you took action. My Founding Members are the trailblazers. The explorers. The early adopters. The risk-takers. The passionate few who will bring about something more than the status quo. Some of you may not even see it within yourselves, but it’s there within you, and every day you draw a new line in the sand and step over it…ready to face new challenges in unknown territory.

My job here isn’t to build a community, it is to inspire greatness. This is my passion and self-proclaimed purpose. Inspiring people to live great lives filled with adventure is my driving force. And, I will admit it is a bit selfish. I thrive on my own greatness and I have come to understand what those moments feel like.

On our first TEAM 4X outing this past weekend, our event organizer, Debra Duane (TEAM 4X Member #30), fittingly described Arizona’s Ironwood Forest as “The Goldilocks Zone” because of the regions stunning lush and diverse landscape. This term is very much the same way I would describe the moments of greatness I have experienced in my life. Having experienced moments of greatness, who wouldn’t strive to live in such a state constantly? I can tell you an Adventurer would. A person who calculates the risk and moves forward prepared for the unknown in exploration of greatness.

We are Adventurers, and together we can achieve greatness.