I have always been fascinated by people who live their life like there are no limits and are always on the pursuit of pioneering adventures into territory unknown. These are the people who I say are always looking to “Escape The Ordinary”, you know, the people that head where the Wi-Fi doesn’t exist yet, Starbucks hasn’t arrived and there are no beaten tracks to follow, the ones who prove time after time that the perceived impossible is very much a discrepancy in ones mind-set! I write this months column as someone who very much tries to adopt the same principles in all aspects of my personal and professional life, there are many people that inspire me and many of those are fellow veterans who have overcome adversity and used it to build a better future and fulfil their dreams.
Moving into uncharted territory isn’t something that comes naturally to most, mainly because it means entering “the unknown” which isn’t always easy, although for me it’s very exciting and always adrenaline fuelled to say the least. This could be in business, in love or just day to day life. At times, it is often quite uncomfortable too and you will likely face doubts and question yourself about the decisions you make along the way, but the rewards that come from exploring what lies beyond the familiarity of the everyday comfort zone are worth all the effort in the world, I can truly promise you!
That’s all sounds very positive and upbeat I know, but like most things these days, you have to scratch beneath the surface to get the full picture to find the truth and I, like most have had many personal challenges over the years including mental health issues, a diagnosis of Epilepsy 18 months ago, contraction of Dengue Fever in Africa and a long-term relationship breakdown with the mother of my daughter too. These are all events and hurdles that I have had to tackle which have been extremely tough and have taken me to some of the lowest points of my life to be completely honest. I believe that all our experiences on this incredible journey of life shape who we are today, what we stand for and the values we hold ourselves accountable too. It’s my expeditions and charity adventures that give me full purpose and fulfilment in life along with my beautiful daughter of course. Climbing Kilimanjaro with no shoes on recently for a project called “Barefoot Warrior” was the start of me doing things very differently and escaping the ordinary, many people thought I was bonkers but not as much crazy as when I decided to run through war zones for a project I called “Running Dangerously”, wait till you see next years project, things continue to get riskier, more dangerous but equally super fulfilling!
And when all is said and done, fulfilment is something you must hang on to when you find it, it isn’t easy to find either and shouldn’t be confused with achievement, there’s a big difference. Fulfilment means something different for everyone, but it’s always aligned with a strong sense of purpose from within. Don’t let someone else define what it should mean for you. That’s when the lines blur between achievement and fulfilment. Achievement without fulfilment leaves you completely empty, I have experienced this several times over the years, it is the epitome of disappointment!
I’m delighted and honoured to have been asked to write this column and to ensure I provide best value I thought I should share some tips on how I try to live my life these days using the lessons I have learnt that keep me moving forward every day in my quest to help others and push the boundaries as far as possible.
You only get one chance in this world and having served in the military and having spent most of my working life in conflict and war zones, i have experienced near death on many occasions and lost close friends and colleagues too. Life can be taken away from you at any stage and people’s time in this world is often cut tragically short without any notice at all. Therefore, we have to live every day to the full, which I appreciate may sound a bit clichéd but I really do mean it! It’s easy to look around at others who you perceive to be happy and assume they don’t understand the challenges you face daily, some a lot more serious than others, but the older and wiser you get though, the more you realise that happiness takes work and doesn’t happen overnight. People who smile at you in the street have been through the mill too just as much as people who cry, frown and scream! They have just learnt how to build the courage and strength to smile through it anyway and keep moving forward. So what advice can I share to ensure you’re living life to the fullest? Well, here are my tips:
• Decide what’s important to you. It doesn’t matter what it is. Don’t do what you think people want you to do. Your parents, friends, community, and society in general all have their opinions, but at the end of the day, you’re the only person who can make your life fulfilling and a happy place. Do what makes you happy. Everything else will fall into place. Trust the process and have faith.
• Take risks, plenty of them too. Sometimes there’s danger involved in life, but know that every reward carries an element of risk with it. If you never take risks, you’ll never make it too far. When people look back on their lives, they regret the chances they didn’t take more than the ones they did. If you do take a risk and things don’t work out as you planned, don’t worry, take the lesson, move on and never forget what you learnt from the experience.
• Opportunities are all around us, keep you radar up for them all the time, they may not always be so obvious but trust me they are there. We often see stumbling blocks in life when they’re stepping stones to help us. Look out for opportunities for others as well and connect the two where you can. Life is very reciprocal, be a good person and good things tend to happen.
• Always show your family and friends that you care and love them. Family will always appreciate hearing you this, no matter how old you get. If you have a romantic interest in someone, just go for it. There are a lot of ways it may end, and only one of them keeps them in your life forever. Just do it. You have nothing to lose.
• Live in the present. Your past is important to learn from. Your future is important to work towards. At the end of the day, the only thing that exists outside of your mind is the present. So, think about your past and future, but don’t dwell on them, live in the heat and now as you never know when it may be gone.
• Ignore the haters. No matter what you decide to do with your life, there will always be someone around to point out the many ways you’ll fail. Know that every winner loses, but not every loser wins. Successful people don’t start out successful. What makes them successful is that they keep pushing through failure and always take note of the lessons. I have found many people have already given up on their goals and dreams, don’t let those types of people effect yours.
• Never compromise your values, know what you stand for and don’t let your standards slip. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Always stand by your morale’s and personal code of ethics. Life doesn’t work like a movie. It’s filled with highs and lows. Trust your instincts. Do whatever you want so long as you can look yourself in the mirror and be honest and true to your own values and standards.
• Do things for others and expect nothing in return, trust me it feels good, especially helping those much less fortunate. Every day, you’ll see someone who could use help, reach out to them with a helping hand, even if it’s just a polite greeting, it’s the small things in life that go a long way, especially where human interaction is concerned.
• Keep an open mind always. Just because you’re right about something doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to look at it. Listening to ideas you don’t agree with or understand, it keeps your brain active and healthy. God gave us two ears and one mouth, us them in that proportion. When you’re listening your learning, it’s a fact.
• Control the Controllable – we spend far too much time in life worrying about things far beyond our control which causes us stress, anxiety and worry. Focus on the things you can control, change and influence and you will leave a much more peaceful life I promise. I learnt the hard way.
If I could leave you with a small piece of advice in life that I was given many years ago, by my father that has stuck with me, I want to share the Wylie A-B-C rule to success:
A – Attitude: A positive attitude will take you a long way in life, much further than experience and qualifications ever will, never underestimate it and always take note of other people’s attitudes too.
B – Build Relationships: One of the key factors that separate the struggling from the successful is their ability to create, cultivate and develop lifelong mutually beneficial relationships.
C – CPD: Continuous Professional Development. You can never stop learning in life and this is a mind-set that will serve you well. For us to live life to the fullest and most fulfilling, we must continually look for ways to improve, learn and develop.
“Be The Difference That Makes The Difference”
Jordan Wylie is a best selling author, former British military, and extreme adventurer. He has a major fundraising initiative underway and can be found at www.rowingdangerously.co.uk which will see him later this month take on the worlds most dangerous row ever attempted. A project he has called #RowingDangerously