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Wanting to touch the stars: what I’ve learned from Mike Horn’s view of life
May 20, 2019
Last month, I attended a conference held in Paris by South African born Swiss explorer and adventurer Mike Horn, whose book “Wanting to touch the stars” I’ve also just finished reading.
This man is the embodiment of resilience, determination and limitless possibilities. His thirst for discovering the world took him to the top of the highest mountains, across the Amazonian forest and through Greenland in the coldest weather and the hardest climatic conditions, losing a couple of toes on the way but never his optimism and desire to live his life to its fullest.
He considers we have 30,000 hours of life to spend on earth and that we shouldn’t waste time complaining, feeling sorry for ourselves – as it would only make us miserable but would not help us move forward; his motto is that we should go after our dreams. Whatever they are. In his books he says that you only climb the mountain of life once. Therefore, one needs to know how to live their dreams.
During his conference, he used his personal stories – his climbing stories, the death of his beloved wife, the nights in the arctic sea and how he faced an angry polar bear and made it out alive – to show how overcoming challenges helps you be more resilient and overcome obstacles more easily.
One life, different challenges
Most people don’t risk their lives the way he chooses to. The challenges we face are often work-related or due to a sick relative, but it is rarely because we decided to cliff-jump or climb Everest without a rope – at least that’s not the focus of this blog. But our body doesn’t really discern the difference between a concrete life-threatening fear and the anxiety generated by speaking in public, for example.
An increasing number of studies have shown that working out or practising yoga and meditation helps reduce stress. Indeed, in France, over two million people practise yoga at least once a year, but whether it’s running, walking, boxing – any kind of physical training, it can help physically and mentally. Human beings were not designed to sit at a desk eight to ten hours per day.
My personal journey
My personal thing is indoor cycling. About a year ago, I joined an indoor cycling studio, and have found it to be the best way to relieve stress and embrace my working days with a more relaxed approach.
Over the past six years, in fact, I’ve tried new activities that weren’t necessarily my ‘go-to’ things in the first place, but which helped me change my approach to professional obstacles. I’ve learned how to ski in my thirties – which is tougher than when you’re five years old, trust me – I’ve been canyoning in Corsican rivers, done a triathlon and scuba diving, but my latest and biggest challenge was learning how to ride a motorbike and ride through France – from Paris to Corsica, and back. I did it because I worked for it and didn’t let go, mostly thanks to my partner who challenges me daily to be a better version of myself in every possible way.
All in all, what I’ve learned from everything I’ve tried, is that when it comes to work, nothing’s impossible and difficulties can be overcome but that we need these side activities, hobbies, passions to be more productive and efficient. Whatever we choose to do, they will help us handle problems at work differently, with a more distant, objective eye, and in the end will make us more successful.