A birthday party in the airport and the unknown around the corner

My 12th birthday party was in the Denver Airport.  On purpose.  My parents asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, and I decided to have a party at the airport. So I invited my three best friends, my parents invited my grandparents and cousins (I bet that was a weird conversation), and we had a full-on birthday party with cake and balloons right in Terminal One.  These were the days before tight security, and you could walk freely through the terminals all the way to the gates, so after cake, we also played a giant game of hide and seek.  It was an awesome birthday party.

I know exactly why I picked the airport.  I had only been on a plane once and I liked it, but that’s not why I loved the airport.  It was because it represented adventure.  I had been with my parents on numerous occasions to pick people up or drop them off.  We always went inside and to the gates.  Along the way, I would look at people’s faces and try to imagine where they had been or where they were going.  I came up with some great stories.  I looked at every city destination sign over the gate and pictured what people might find there and why they might be going.

The unknown = adventure

When people went up in the plane, the adventure started.   They would land in a new world, and it would be unusual and full of risk, much like the wardrobe doors to Narnia. They could not predict what would be on the other side, but it would be different. It is the element of the unknown waiting around the corner that made me love not just going to the airport but also seeking out experiences with risk. 

I still do.  I come alive in adventure.  I am happier and more confident as I take advantage of opportunities to proceed despite risk.    And I believe that people grow when they choose adventure.

It’s not easy.

While I love adventures, they are not always fun.  They can be difficult, scary and involve danger in different forms.  Sometimes smaller risks, like embarrassment or failure can be just as halting as big risks like breaking a limb or financial loss.   It can be hard to leave my comfort zone.  But I am always glad when I do.  As Eleanor Roosevelt stated,

"The purpose of life is to live it…to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience."

When I joined the team at Ogilvie Ross, I noticed right away that this was a group that was not afraid of leaving the well-worn pathways.  They were up for the unknown.  Adventure is one of the Ogilivie Ross values and it permeates throughout the company.  While there are many benefits to working with like-minded, adventurous people, there are three which are my favourite:

  1. The ability to deal with new and unexpected changes.  Nobody freaks out when something happens that we didn’t expect.  IDEO, a design and consulting firm in California, calls this uncomfortable feeling "disequilibrium." Disequilibrium happens when you begin to see things in the world that don’t make sense to you. The things you thought you knew—the things that helped you feel stable and clear—are now in question. And, woof. This state is hard.   By pushing through, and not giving up, we become resourceful and are able to redefine problems.                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  2. More creativity.  We see more options and are open to suggestions.  Typically, people tend to be biased toward predicting disaster. They may write a bleak future or outcome based on current knowledge.  However, an adventurous person views a situation through a different lens. When the "equilibrium" of our world is off, the way through is to create new meaning and innovate. Once we start to put those pieces back together into new frameworks of understanding, That’s when the new ideas start to flow.                                                                                                                                                                                              
  3. Adventure is a differentiator.  People tend to avoid risk and stay where they are comfortable. Adventure isn't all fun. Confusion, self-doubt,  getting lost, and then finding your way again can sometimes be part of the process.  It is the willingness to choose this less worn pathway over comfort that leads to a richer, fuller life of new experience, creativity, growth and expanded horizons.  Adventure sets people out from the crowd.

Adventure doesn’t have to mean bungee jumping and wrestling alligators.  We have the opportunity every day, including in the workplace and in daily routines, to choose new things, to pursue an experience despite risk.  The adventure is in the unknown.  And what we do with the unknown can be birthplace of creativity and success.   

Written by Greta Hart Montgomery

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