How to Give Up a “Sure Thing” and End Up in Antarctica

How to Give Up a “Sure Thing” and End Up in Antarctica

Note from Jonathan: I’m excited to introduce to you this guest post from Mike Routen of Route to Freedom. Mike is someone to look up to when it comes to taking risks and living a life of adventure. I’m grateful to share his important message with you here.

Its funny how we can put on virtual blinders and not be aware of the many possibilities that life presents to us.
This state of mind almost kept me from one of the greatest experiences of my life, Antarctica!

I was in the Navy, working in Search And Rescue in 1990. This was during the first Gulf War. My supervisor gathered up the three of us and said that he had a dilemma. Because of the war, Naval Station Patuxent River, Maryland had a need for two Search And Rescue Medical Technicians to go there on temporary duty.

The Patuxent River Search And Rescue crews were regularly running live rescue operations and we all wanted to get in on the action.

Being stationed in the middle of the Mojave Desert, flying training missions, but rarely doing any actual Search And Rescue work, all three of us were ready to fight for the two slots.

We stood around, looking at each other. Waiting for someone to come up with some kind of solution, you could almost hear the theme from an old Western playing in the background. Each of us waiting for someone else to flinch.

Then it occurred to me. My supervisor had told us of the experiences that he had when he was stationed in Antarctica. So, I posed that the two other guys could take the Patuxent River slots if our supervisor would help me apply for the next Operation Deep Freeze cycle.

Everyone in the room was all smiles and high-fives. The dilemma was solved! Of course there was no guarantee that I would be accepted and actually get to go to Antarctica, but just the chance was good enough for me.

In the worst case, I would just stay at my current base and continue to do the work that I had available to me. Best case would have me going to the most remote continent in the world.

As you can imagine, we were successful in getting me accepted to Operation Deep Freeze.

By being willing to take the risk that I would miss out on a sure thing, I was able to do something that few people in the world ever have. I have lived in Antarctica. I’ve been to the South Pole. I’ve watched a Minke whale swim just a few feet away watching me as it went by. I’ve seen Killer Whales spy-hopping, looking for penguin-snacks on the ice.

Sometimes by taking the risk and letting go of the “sure thing” you can rocket past where you are and make huge gains. Now, this won’t always be the case. There will be times that you take the risk and things won’t pan out.

The more I think about it, the more I’m learning to appreciate the phrase, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” It’s when you’re willing to take a risk that you fully come alive.

What Is Risk Taking?

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool;
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental;
To reach out for another is to risk involvement;
To expose feelings is to risk exposing true self;
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss;
To love is to risk not being loved in return;
To live is to risk dying;
To hope is to risk despair;
To try is to risk failure;
But risk must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing;
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing;
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love and live;
Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave and has forfeited freedom’
Only a person who risks is free.
-William Arthur Ward

Do not be afraid to laugh, weep and reach out. Expose your feelings, place your ideas and dreams before you. Live. Love. Hope. Most of all, try.

Be alert to the possibilities that life presents to you. When you see them, exercise your freedom and take a risk. You never know where it might take you.

See how far you can go.

About the Author: Pilot and software developer by training, adventure junkie at heart, Mike Routen helps you find the path to your personal freedom at Route To Freedom

photo courtesy of Chantal Steyn

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