In January 2016, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to facilitate training over five days of 41 students on the Spirit of New Zealand training ship.
The purpose of the voyage was also to teach leadership and team work skills, which the crew of the Spirt of NZ did an amazing job with. Jumping off a ship at 6.30 am, climbing to the top of very high rigging on this tall ship, working as a team to hoist very heavy sails, and living and sleeping in very close quarters, were all part of the experience.
My role was to provide training to the 41 student representatives on different parts involved in being an elected representative of a board. The motivation and willingness of these students to participate in all aspects of the voyage experience was inspiring. More so considering the rolling seas meant seasickness was common.
What struck me most was the willingness of these young people to give things a go. This meant for some pushing the boundaries of their personal comfort, which they did with positively and intent.
At one point in the voyage, an activity of a rope swing which meant you stood on the railing of the boat, walk back as far as you could on the railing, then swing out and let go over the water. The activity itself was not particularly high risk, as the worse case scenario was slight pain from doing a bellyflop into the water and any associated embarrassment as you realise others watched the epic fail.
For some reason I hesitated about giving this activity a go. I watched the young people and crew leaping off, screaming and laughing. I stood there weighing up the pros and cons of having a go myself.
The deciding factor for me was when one of the crew commented, "will you regret not giving this a go?" I am pleased to say five minutes later I was up on the rope swing and thankfully not a bellyflop in sight!
While I was glad I did give it a go, I was a bit annoyed with myself for even contemplating not giving it a go. These sorts of activities ten or fifteen years ago I would be close to the front of the line, and certainly not just doing the activity once. I reflected on what had changed.
It struck me that somewhere along the way doubt had crept in. The saying, "do something each day that scares or challenges you" came to mind. I wondered how many other people there were in their 40s or 50s who had started to lose confidence in their ability to do things which previously would not had bothered them.
I believe as we get older we can become more narrow in the things which are in our comfort zone. This happens without us realising it.
A friend of mine works alongside the elderly who are close to death. Her experience is those who struggle most during this transition were ones that had regrets about missed opportunities and unresolved regrets. It was very common to hear people say, if only...
One of my favourite movies is The Bucket List. While I am not advocating for people to climb mountains, and have untold remarkable experiences, I think the message about giving new things a go, and consistently living each day and a life where you are open to find things which expand your comfort zone will mean the question, should I give it a go, probably won't even enter your head.