It’s vital for leaders and creatives (especially in cultural industries) to go on adventures. Here’s why.
Recently I did something I have never done before: fly like an eagle at 3,000 feet via tandem hang glider. The added bonus was that it was in a place I had always wanted to go to: the Catskill Mountains.
For someone like me who loves time management, this was a win-win, two-birds-with-one-stone situation. So, I woke up at dawn and drove down a dirt road through beautiful new landscapes to get to the hangar. I was welcomed by a woman originally from Bali, getting to meet someone from a totally new culture. It then took a team to prep me and the pilot, Thomas. The moment I was secure, we started moving, the plane pulling us into the sky by what looked like a rope at best.
This part was both exhilarating and scary. The pilot communicated clearly and told me to hold the handles (like they were going to do anything if something went wrong) and relax. Think about that. As an actor, there is an art to letting go. To be. And, to be in the moment or in the present without any preconceived notions or thoughts, you go on instinct instead.
On a set at any given time, the best-laid plans can get disrupted: an angry neighbor is making noise during filming, the sun is setting, your batteries are running low and you have to get shots in the can and down the mountain to holding within 30 minutes. Maybe the location changed and you have to reset, your under-5-years-old talent did not show up, wardrobe is not dressing properly for scene dates, sound is holding your audio hostage, your boat sinks — the list goes on.
If you do not have adventures, you will be stuck only with the tools you have learned to date, which means you are not growing. Go forth wisely but get out of your comfort zone. Who knows? You may learn to ice skate, do origami, fly a helicopter or start a book club. Your adventure can be just doing one thing new. Start there.
New experiences can help you communicate better, understand someone else’s side of the story better, be more open to opportunities, and feel more empowered to tackle anything even if you do not like your adventure. You are learning what you like and don’t like, which means you can make better decisions.
When we were 3,000 feet up, the glide pilot asked if I’d be OK going to 4,000 feet as the clouds were low, which was rare. Normally, I would say no, but it seemed like he was telling me that’s what we should do, so I said, “yes.” Half with glee and half scared out of my wits, I screamed once we were released from the plane. We were above the clouds now, and, maneuvering to face the sun, I looked back at the clouds to see our shadow encircled in a rainbow. We freefalled a little bit, before swooping left and right, which felt like the most amazing part of a roller coaster. When it was time to land, it dawned on me that I had no idea how that would happen, so I just let go and trusted. We were like a kite with wheels landing on a dirt runway, while all the team members on the ground cheered.
What did I take away from this experience?
It reminded me to seek people with a good track record, trust my decisions, listen, learn and communicate and mostly to go with it, whatever I signed up for, as I know I will be a newer more experienced and fun version of myself. Adventures give us a response when someone asks, “What have you done lately?”
Why does this matter?
Because we are innately human — different and similar — and crave stories. Having an adventure not only gives you a great story to share, it gives you a better understanding of people, trust, expertise, choice, communication and new skills for life.
(Disclaimer: Safety first. Always check with your medical practitioner before going on an adventure, such as the one in this story.)