Archive for March, 2010

The Adventure Advantage belongs to individuals and organizations that recognize the primacy of process over outcome, experience over acquisition.

There are those of us who dedicate their lives to ‘acquiring’. Their goal is to accumulate possessions, security, power and recognition. They determine their success by measures of comparison. Their bumper sticker reads: “Whoever dies with the most toys wins”.

Then there are others who set about their lives ‘experiencing’. These folks see life like a novel… not a catalog. A dance… not a destination. Their goal is a life lived fully, broadly and well. Their bumper sticker reads: “Whoever dies with the most toys… is still dead”.

The difference is the Adventure Advantage. While the first group is held captive by changes of fortune, health and circumstance, the second group experiences adversity and says “Bring in on! What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”. They know that living in fear of losing brings stress and disease. They recognize that our greatest gifts accrue in times of monstrous uncertainty – even loss – giving us a vibrancy and reliance that is unstoppable. The Adventure Advantage belongs to individuals and organizations that recognize the primacy of process over outcome, experience over acquisition.

An Attitude of Gratitude

I have recently had the opportunity to return to the life I used to live. In a matter of days I spoke on both coasts, north to south from Seattle to Orlando with a bunch of states in between. Once again I was met by guys with narrow ties and signs, transported to five star hotels. Snug in my room with Heavenly Bed, flat screen TV and mini-bar, tweaking my PowerPoint for the next day’s event I was happy as a king. Something had changed. While it felt like paradise, this was the traveling life I remembered bitterly complaining about just over a year ago!

What had occurred? 2009… a dreadful time. The worst year in speaking history. Like many others in my chosen profession, financially I was measurably worse off than a scant twelve months earlier. Yet in things that mattered I was immeasurably better. Unbeknownst to myself, I had grown jaded and spoiled, blind to the priceless gift that was my life and my vocation. Suddenly my eyes and heart were open again. To do this work, to make a living roving this world, meeting kindred souls, sharing stories, opening eyes and hearts… this is heaven. The whining was gone forever. Appreciation filled me.

It was a hotel room epiphany. Not just about my livelihood, but about my life. I would not have gotten to gratitude without the experience of adversity.

Like the Taoist sages tell us: you can have everything and have nothing. You can have nothing and have everything. The Adventure Advantage reminds us that there is no such thing as losing. It is only a matter of deepening our perspective and seeing that as the world changes so must we. That what may appear to be loss is simply the winnowing away of superficiality and distraction. How much we lose by easily winning! How much may be gained from what initially appears as loss!

If there are two kinds of people: those who define success by what they have and those who define it by who they are becoming, I am learning how essential it is – especially in these times – to belong to the second group.

As Meister Eckhart said:  “If the only prayer you said in your life was ‘thank you’, that would be enough.”


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