There are days where I feel as if I am channeling my inner Indiana Jones. I wake up, grab my bullwhip and fedora, and slip on my leather jacket, ready to jump on the next transport to Kathmandu. But then there are days when I am decidedly more Marcus Brody, ready to hunker down in the library and politely ask the Dean to give Professor Jones more latitude and do my best to help Indy keep his job.
I don’t think that I possess what David Dobbs in a recent National Geographic article calls “Restless Genes.” As Dobbs writes, “Not all of us ache to ride a rocket or sail the infinite sea. Yet as a species we’re curious enough, and intrigued enough by the prospect, to help pay for the trip and cheer at the voyagers’ return.” In fact, if my friend’s end of year FaceBook posts (or even their blogs) are any indication of this drive, 2013 is the year to “live life boldly.” In 2013 there will be no more hesitation, only perspiration, as these friends of mine, nay the world, plan to “carpe the hell out of that diem.”
Now while Dobbs’ article is mostly about the idea of a gene, a component within our DNA, that drives some of us to climb the highest mountain or swim to the depths of the deepest ocean–an “adventure gene” as it has been called–I also think that we can adapt the article to address the fact that while many of us may not physically circumnavigate the globe, we do possess the desire to make a significant contribution to our fellow man while navigating our own small portion of the globe.
“Life is either a great adventure or nothing” Helen Keller
But whether you are Indiana Jones or Marcus Brody, the simple fact is: We don’t go it alone. The visionaries, the explorers, and the men and women of “stuff and legend” have people who support them, encourage them, and, yes, often times with the greatest of care, help keep their feet planted squarely on Terra Firma. Entrepreneurs are risk takers, they are the ones who, while the optimist is saying the glass is half full and the pessimist is saying it is have empty, have grabbed the glass off the table and drunk the contents. They are the opportunists. They turn resolutions into realizations. But they also need to have someone in their corner not reminding them of reality in order to curb their enthusiasm, but to provide a healthy perspective.
Dreams do not always become reality overnight. Changing the world starts with a single step. And you have to be not just restless, but relentless. You have to stay focused, you have to stay the course, and you have to be resolved that your vision, whatever it may be, will be realized.
If your vision is a step to:
• Start a non-profit that helps young women realize their potential as “steminists”
• Open a charter school to help gifted and talented students
• Create an app that will help families better connect with and communicate with school
• Run a marathon and raise funds that will support global vaccination and anti-poverty efforts
• Write a book about changing the world in single steps
Then you will need a plan, equipment, and a support team. Every explorer, visionary, and change agent didn’t necessarily succeed the first time out. But instead of thinking a mistake was a roadblock, they turned it into a lesson to learn from. They adapted. And then they blazed their own trail.
So whether you wake up ready to explore the world or ready to explore your small corner of it, make sure you have your fedora packed and ticket in hand, and always remember to say thank you to Brody when you return and still have your job.
There may not be theme music that accompanies the champion championing the champion, but that can be quite the adventure in itself.
What adventure will you choose?