5 Things Adele Learned from Last Night’s Esc Wednesday:  ‘How we built our careers around our passions

Last night deep underground in London’s Adam Street Club, Ben Keene and Dave Cornthwaite, told us their stories.

One of them rented a Fijian island. The other skateboarded from one coast of Australia to another. As you do.

I doubt I was alone in feeling extremely boring in comparison to last night’s awesomely special guest speakers.

[Scroll to the bottom to see details for how to enter the ‘Escape List’ Adam Street free evening membership life-changing competition!]

Escape the City, Escape Wednesdays from Step One on Vimeo.

So who are these characters?

Ben founded Tribewanted (Fiji and Sierra Leone) – their mission is to build sustainable communities in amazing places that benefit locals and visiting members; inspiring positive change within and far beyond the village. Ben’s website and his Esc Hero profile.

Dave is a world record-breaking adventurer, author, and motivational speaker. He is four journeys into his £1,000,000 Expedition1000 project: 25 x 1000+ mile journeys, each using a different form of non-motorised transport Dave’s website and his Esc Hero profile.

This is what I learnt:

1. You can’t just stumble upon your passion.

Dave talked about how we all have passions. Often, it’s just difficult to figure out what they are. Remaining in the same environment doesn’t bring you different results – you need exposure to the world in order to figure out your place in it. When Dave was 25, he had a house, girlfriend, cat, steady job – but he could help but feel like there was more to life. He had no idea what he was passionate about, but it was travel that changed him.

2. Comfort kills ambition like nothing else.

Dave had studied Maths, gone to university, and was comfortable in his mortgage and with a steady pay cheque – but he soon realised that he had never asked himself what he wanted out of life, what made him happy. Being happy and being comfortable are not the same thing.

3. These things don’t happen overnight.

We all need money to live. Developing your passion and turning it into sustainable revenue is a process that can take years, not months. Dave had been skateboarding for 18 months, from one end to Australia to the other, but had no idea what to do the day after he finished.

Ben: “You can have cool ideas but not know where they’re going… [taking the leap] is the only way you find out. Just by following something and sticking with it… opportunities arise.”

4. Being brave doesn’t protect you from disaster.

Ben had a crazy story about his first three months with Tribewanted – in summary, there was a fire, cyclone, scam accusation, and coup. However, he and the business made it through – and now the episode is a story that he tells at events like last night’s…

I was marvelling at how he just talked about ‘raising finance’ and renting an island’ as if it was as easy as anything else. Then I realised, a lot of things ARE very easy – they’re practical things and can be broken down into steps that need to be taken. It’s emotional fear that gets in our way or makes us think that things are harder than they actually are.

5. Belonging is a human need.

Ben talked about how Tribewanted created a different ‘scene’ in Fiji, one where evenings were spent sitting around the fire, sharing stories and playing guitar and drinking kava. All tourists who came, he said, fell in love with romanticism of belonging to community.

Community – feel like you really belong somewhere and playing your little part. Can live sustainably because you can see it. Idea of belonging was really strong. Different from scene of western definition of Fiji. Real Fiji.

Massive thank you to Ben and Dave for last night’s talk. The Esc team were gutted to have missed it. Looking forward to plenty more in 2012. And thanks to Adele for a great review. Keep an eye on our Events page for 2012’s calendar of events.

How to enter our Escape List competition.

noun – esc·ape list  [esc-ape listfree-dom; Fr. le-escape]

Definition: Product of soul-searching and reflection on personal goals. Separate from ‘bucket list’ concept through the fact that the core objective is to complete tasks on list now, not just before you kick the bucket. An Escape List should be a minimum of ten dreams long, there is no maximum. Thought of each item on list should make list creator smile. Completion of full list should be sufficient to fundamentally shift perspective / make corporate escape a reality.

Each item on list should fall within following categories:

1. Financial: not an amount to earn, but an amount to save to afford item in question. E.g. Ben worked hard and saved enough money to visit a Tribe in Fiji.

2. Physical: opportunity to develop/ continue health and fitness driven by an end goal involving physical challenge. E.g. Dave trained for days in order to skateboard across Australia.

3. Psychological: little to no impact on physical health or financial stability, a psychological item simply offers the list creator a chance to vacate his/her comfort zone. E.g. Seb stayed awake for 72 Hours, just to see if he could.

The rules of the game

UPDATED RULES!! You don’t win by completing your list (although that is the ultimate objective) – post your Escape List below by Friday 9th December and Ben and Dave will decide on the 5 best ones…

  1. Post your Escape List in the comments below.
  2. Publicly commit to completing the list.
  3. Ask for and receive help from the Esc tribe where relevant.
  4. Return when list is completed to glory and applause – proof would be nice.
  5. Dave & Ben will choose 5 lists to win a year’s free evening membership at Adam Street Club.

A fun way to round off the competition would be to write a guest blog post for Escape the City summarising your experiences in taking on this challenge.

Thanks and good luck! Any questions ping @benkeene, @davecorn or @escthecity on Twitter. Or come leave a message on Facebook. Or comment below.