Mike Horn is an inspiration. Globally acknowledged as the world’s greatest modern day explorer, Mike’s list of accomplishments as a solo explorer are unparalleled. In two decades, the South African, who lives in the Swiss village of Château d’Oex, has seen more of the Earth than possibly
any other human.
He has swum the Amazon River solo and unsupported, crossed the Antarctic, and circumnavigation the globe at the equator. In the first he traversed South America, leaving on foot from the Pacific Ocean and climbing to the source of the Amazon River high in the Peruvian Andes. From there he bodyboarded 7,000km to the Atlantic Ocean, hunting and fishing to survive. As human beings go, he’s impressive. Not just for his achievements but for his warmth, boundless ambition and preternatural energy sense of humour and modesty.
Latitude Zero in 2001 was his first round-the-world trip. After starting in Gabon, West Africa, he crossed the Atlantic in a 28-foot trimaran yacht; cycled, canoed and walked across South America; sailed across the Pacific and the Indian Ocean and finally crossed the African continent on foot. He became the first man ever to circumnavigate the globe at the equator with no motorised transport during the 18-month expedition, which earned him the 2001 Laureus World Alternative Sportsperson of the Year Award (as well as an invitation to meet the Pope!).
These are only a few of the many (mostly solo) expeditions he has done. In the process he has survived being blindfolded to face a firing squad in the middle of Africa, hosts a TV show in France and has learnt to speak 7 languages. His Young Explorers, Pangaea Expeditions have given hundreds of teenagers the chance to join him at different stages of his trips, to learn about biodiversity and how to create a sustainable world.
How has he created a life like this?
Previously in our Destiny is a Choice series of articles we spoke about how to identify what’s important to you. This provides the foundation for you to decide what your focus will be and you begin to concentrate on areas where you have some influence and control. Mike Horn says he was born an explorer. This sense of conviction has given him purpose. “A lot of people often don’t really find who they are because they’re so influenced by external factors that channel them into a direction that they might not want to take themselves.” This platform provides his priorities and allows him to concentrate on what is important to him. At the same time, he has always remained open to opportunity.
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough”
Born in South Africa to academic parents, he lost his father when he was 18. Mike subsequently joined the elite Special Forces and after training, which included guerrilla and psychological warfare, he found out what it took to survive when all odds are stacked against you. After discharge from the forces he became so interested in the link between mind, body and performance he decided to study Sports and Human Movement at university.
Following his studies, he began making good money buying and selling fresh produce when he was in his early twenties. By most standards, he had everything he wanted, but found himself bored and uninspired. He decided to give everything away (including his house and car) to family and friends, and took off overseas with just enough money in his pocket for an air ticket. ““I had done well and realised I was collecting the wrong things — I had the car, the house, the money, but no relationships. “So, I thought I’d reset my life by giving all my stuff away and search for actual meaning”.
When he arrived in Zurich, not being able to speak Italian, French or German, he battled to find work. Eventually Mike got a job washing dishes at a youth hostel in a little village in the Swiss Alps. He taught himself how to ski and became good enough to become a ski instructor.
Serendipity = Opportunity.
When the summer came, the local tour office needed a rafting guide to take tourists down the river on guided tours. They approached Mike and said, “You know how to work with clients and people and we would like to employ you.” Although he had never rafted before, he said, “I will try.”
Mike’s career took another leap when the Italian watchmaker Sector picked him for the Sector No Limits sports team. He seized the opportunity, chalking up a series of amazing feats.
Lessons We Can Learn From Mike Horn
OK, that’s Mike, so what about me, you? Besides being open to possibility, it’s so easy to get stuck into a cycle of procrastination, rather than activation. How many people develop an idea of achieving something new, perhaps even start the New Year with a resolution? Did you realise that only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions. How can we become action biased like Mike?
Mark Twain’s advice is simple. “The secret to getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking into your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.” You begin to do the priority things in order to accomplish what you intend to achieve.
An example is that you decide to run a marathon. It’s a big goal. You identify an event not too far from you, sit down with a coach and develop a training program. You find a training group to keep you motivated and provide you with connection. And accountability. Then the training starts. Initially the new regime feels strange as you introduce it into your weekly routine. After two months (so researchers say) or more it morphs into a habit, and starts
to become part of your life. You’ve translated the bigger goal into “process goals”, just focusing on one step at a time.
So, when the doubts arise, what do you do? Give up? Question, do you still believe you can do it? One powerful approach is changing your language. When you encounter setbacks, as you will, using terms like “there’s nothing I can do”, “if only she wouldn’t…”, “he makes me so mad”, “I can’t”, “If only” and “I must”, drains your energy and dis-empowers your intentions. Your
resolve weakens and you shift the blame to some other thing or person.
Staying the course of the action becomes harder than it should. In contrast, changing your language to one of responsibility and pro-activity can completely transform your situation. It opens up new possibilities, whether to trouble-shoot what looks “impossible”, improve relationships, find new opportunities and strengthen your resolve.
At Zuberant Life we talk about the energizing, engaging and embracing of body, mind and soul, which translates into a form of holistic flow – when things are “flowing”. Everything gels, and it feels good. Energy is not being squandered on the rocks and whirlpools in the river of life, but you begin finding energy in alignment, and strength in purpose and conviction. Use phrases like “let’s look at our alternatives”, “I choose my response”, “I can control my feelings”, I take responsibility”, “I prefer”. You would be surprised at the shift.
“The impossible exists only until we find a way to make it possible”
So, to avoid procrastination and to become biased to activation, just do it. Habituate the good stuff. As author James Clear says, you have 25,000 mornings as an adult. Use them wisely. Get off to a good start each day by getting a good night’s sleep the night before. Start the day with your usual routine. It helps to have a ritual to kick things off. Some people kick off their day with ten minutes of meditation. Then you are ready to continue the sequence of your routine, e.g. exercise, getting kids ready for school, etc. When you are ready for commence, review your priorities and work through your most important tasks in order. A written list helps provide structure and its best to complete each task before moving on.
This article is based on the Destiny is a Choice model which shows how your fundamental conviction translates into cycle of empowerment. As your conviction (who you are being) grows, you begin to know what could be, and start to exhibit what you will be in your chosen future (your destiny). It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, both good and bad. It is within each of us to recognise and unveil the positive potential latent in us and kickstart the virtuous circle of destiny by choice.
Mike Horn story
19 Reasons why Mike Horn is the world’s greatest living man
Breaking through your Comfort Zone
Moving from Reactive to Proactive Language – Franklin Covey
James Clear on maximising your morning routine
ZUBER HACK POSITIVE ACTIVATION
- Stop being a perfectionist
- Use proactive, rather than reactive, language. Take responsibility.
- Acknowledge the overall goal, but focus on the process – the everyday rituals and actions
- Break what needs to be done into small chunks that can be ticked off easily
- Identify and write down your six most important tasks
● Either as your last thing before finishing work each day, or when you first start work,
review what needs to be done and rank your tasks by importance
● Focusing on the top, highest priority tasks, work your way down the list
● Finish each task before moving on and move incomplete tasks to the next day
● Eliminate distractions
● Ask for help if you need
- Review your progress weekly – are you focused on the right things? What has changed,
do you need to do anything else, or stop doing something? Are there any deadlines?
- On a daily and weekly basis, take some down time just for yourself. Go for a run in the
park, read a good book, or watch the tide come in at the beach. Spending some time
alone can help put things in perspective.
- Just do it!