The spirit of adventure has been inside every great leader in history. Great achievers like Queen Elizabeth and Steve Jobs; along with movers and shakers like Lady Gaga and Walt Disney, all share a common thread: they weren’t afraid to try something new.
To succeed in life and lead others you must acquire, possess, and maintain an adventurous attitude. Even if you’re afraid to eat at new restaurants and try new foods, or you’d rather die than embarrass yourself in public; you can still learn to be adventurous!
You don’t have to do something that scares you every day (as Eleanor Roosevelt suggested), but you have to get over your fears eventually. Stepping outside of your comfort zone on most days is a good place to start. Consider the following traits of adventurous people to learn why they make phenomenal leaders.
They Have a Vision
Walt Disney believed in his dreams, in spite of a world that told him he was crazy. He knew that it was his optimism and persistence in pursuing the things he had dreamed about that was behind his great success. As he said, “The more a vision can be expressed in a vivid, imaginative way, the more it will motivate people to action in the present.”
They Do Not Conform
Lady Gaga did not try to imitate or emulate anyone. She wasn’t afraid to go against the norms. She credits these facts with leading to her success. She set standards for herself and ignored naysayers. By trusting her instincts and refusing to conform, the bullied girl that felt out of place as a youth became one of the best-selling musicians of all time, breaking records that no one but herself thought she would break.
Gaga holds 13 Guinness World Records, 6 Grammy Awards, and a Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Contemporary Icon Award (the first ever recipient). She was also listed by TIME as one of the most influential people of the decade in 2013.
They Aren’t Afraid of a Challenge
Peter Dinklage plays Tyrion on HBO’s wildly popular Game of Thrones. He was never afraid to face a new challenge. Born with achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism), Dinklage faced many challenges on his way to becoming an award-winning actor. He credits his sense of humor and natural optimism with readying him for the many obstacles that would come between him and becoming a star.
Dinklage was not afraid to do things others said he couldn’t do – such as becoming a leading actor at only 4-feet, five-inches tall. He knew that without risk there could be no success. He embraced the challenge and succeeded.
They Are Independent Thinkers
Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory, was expelled from school at 16 for laziness and lack of original thought. Despite his teacher’s disdain for him, Darwin trusted his own judgement and his ability to figure things out independent of other people’s beliefs.
His independent thinking led him to revolutionary insights into the process of Natural Selection and the nature of life on the planet. His Origin of the Species was published in 1859 amid great controversy, but has consequently changed how we all see the world.
They Radiate Persuasiveness
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computers, was able to convince the world that they could not possibly live without a personal computer. He was able to sweet talk people into following his vision of the future. To become a leader like Jobs, you must be able to win trust and influence the actions of others through sheer force of will.
They Have a Natural Sense of Wanderlust
Padma Lakshmi was always curious about the world around her. She was anxious to see it. Despite a devastating car accident that left her horribly scarred, Padma had a desire to travel the world as a model.
Many powerful agents told her that she had little chance of succeeding in the modeling world without major reconstructive surgery. Without any major operations – but with a heart that longed to explore – she not only became a model, but she also became an actor, author and successful television host.
The lesson here? Don’t be like the absurd amount of Americans who don’t take their paid vacation every year. Soak in everything you can from your experiences as you roam away from home.
They Are Courageous and Determined
Tina Fey had the courage to step outside of her comfort zone and become a performer. She is now one of the most successful writers and actors in television and films. Fey is best known for her roles on Saturday Night Live, Thirty Rock and as writer of the feature film Mean Girls.
Her original desire to write comedy was soon abandoned as she realized that she must step in front of the camera to live the life she dreamed. She was bold enough to quell her anxieties, get over her stage fright and achieve the success she craved.
They Have No Regrets
Bethany Hamilton lost her arm to a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing in Hawaii when she was just thirteen years old. She refused to dwell on her misfortune and had absolutely no regrets about what befell her.Shereturned to surfing within a month of losing her arm and won a National Surfing title just over a year later.
Adventure comes to those who look for it and embrace it. You can adopt an adventurous spirit even if you’re not among the lucky few who were born with the trait. You can train yourself to be adventurous by opening your mind to new possibilities.
I leave you with the following two reminders. 1: Step outside your comfort zone at every turn. 2: Take every possible opportunity for adventure that presents itself.