Come Back Alive…Come Back as Friends
Lately, I have found myself in constant adventure-planning mode. We have a fun one on deck for June/July of this year (details to come later), but for now it is all about the planning.
Once a trip transitions from a “little adventure” to something more along the lines of an “expedition,” its success lies in the details. Experience has taught me that one of the most important details is choosing whom you decide to travel with.
A friend once told me that there are two rules to adventuring:
#1. Come back alive
#2. Come back as friends
Believe me, the second one is not always as easy as it sounds. No matter how well everyone knows each other, an adverse situation will bring out unexpected parts of each person’s personality, and it is important to know what kind of personality you are dealing with (including your own) prior to committing to a big trip.
Recently, I read this article by Steve Graepel on National Geographic’s Adventure site. In it, he breaks down adventure-types into four general groups: the Artisan, Rational, Guardian and Idealist.
Past adventures have taught me to really appreciate the Rational; “the Rationals have a no-nonsense, logical approach to decision making—either the plan is going to work, or it isn't…Without a doubt, these are your navigators with instinctive mapping skills.” My favorite Rational is a guy named Wayne Schaut--I find it best to bounce all crazy ideas off of him first. Inevitably, he will begin by reminding me that I am a glutton for punishment, list the reasons why, and will then pull out a map or a chart to help me come up with a way to make my ridiculous idea work. Here is a video of Wayne explaining the hazards of my desire to paddle across the Alinuihaha Channel, the water that separates The Big Island of Hawaii and Maui.
Another type that I really appreciate is the Idealist; “their strength is in their ability to be inclusive, protecting democratic input. As such, they will often rise to roles leading teams through friction.” As the peacemaker, this person is arguably the most important member of the team, making sure that all others feel important as well. In the same channel crossing adventure that Wayne was involved in, my father filled this particular role. His official title was “still photographer,” but the reality is that he was the glue that held the group together and his presence on that trip made it clear that every following expedition must have someone like him involved.
Graepel states that “people are complicated; we’re not likely to radically identify with [any of the four] temperaments,” and I agree. I think that anyone with an adventurous spirit will possess qualities from any or all four of the personality types. I tested as an Idealist, but frequently call or text my friends with the phrase “so, I’ve got an idea…before you say no, just hear me out...,” an Artisan trait. The Guardian in me “becomes antsy until a decision is made in times of change,” and “prefers the meticulousness of a timeline.”
It is difficult to know how an expedition will play out until you are right out in the middle of it. For me, the past has taught me to understand my own faults and weaknesses and to be more tolerant of those of my friends. Right now, in the middle of the planning process, there is only one thing that I am sure of: at some point, something will go wrong. Down the line, we might not remember what exactly went wrong, but we will remember how we chose to handle it…together.
For more on the personality groups and to find out which one you fall into: