Throw Yourself Into the Unknown and Learn to Adapt

Throw Yourself Into the Unknown and Learn to Adapt

We’re even more sheltered than we realize. Sometimes going off on an epic adventure can shift your entire perspective on the world, and your life.

On a recent episode of The Darin Olien Show, I had a fun conversation with my friend and adventure extraordinaire Erik Cooper. Erik grew up on a horse farm in a small town in Missouri. Even though he moved to New York City at 18 and eventually to LA years later, he lacked adventure in his life. He wasn’t even aware of how much his life lacked adventure until he signed up for his very first one, The Mongol Derby. 

Billed as “the toughest horse race in the world”, The Mongol Derby is a 10-day trek through the Mongolian countryside on the wild native horses of the land. Erik trained for this unprecedented event in his life as much as he could, but as it would turn out, nothing can prepare you for an adventure like this.

Jump in Head First

Sometimes staying away from things that scare us can keep us from growing and evolving. Or as Erik says, “We protect ourselves too much.” When you consciously protect yourself from the unknown, because you don’t know what the outcome will be, you’re holding yourself back. Erik makes an effort to do the things that scare him, sometimes with little knowledge at all.

“Don’t even research it,” he says, “Just do it.”

So if you’ve felt the pull to do something that terrifies you, like skydiving for example, or rock climbing, do it! You’ll learn what you need to from the experts beforehand, researching online might just give you an opportunity to talk yourself out of it. (Don’t jump out of a plane or climb a mountain without the proper preparation of course!)

It’s Never What You Thought it Would Be

Erik knew his ten days in Mongolia would be hard, but what he didn’t realize is that it would change his whole perspective on life. Seeing how the nomads of Mongolia lived, constantly on the move and sometimes days between finding water and food sources, made him realize how sheltered he had been. “We have it so easy,” he said.

But is it easy? Having everything you need at arm’s length day in and day out coddles us. It means when things get tough, we don’t know how to adapt. Look at the current pandemic, so many of us are flailing about learning how to cook for ourselves, garden, cut our own hair, all the things we have taken for granted our entire lives. And with convenience comes compliance, we become ok with being incapable of providing for ourselves.

Erik found himself thriving in such an uncertain setting. He was in awe of the nomads and the entire Mongolian way of life. Even the native horses seemed to have their shit together, knowing how to take care of themselves when things got tough.

Ready to Take on the Unknown

When Erik returned from his epic adventure in Mongolia, he fell into a depression. His dark headspace was most likely a sort of withdrawal, missing the uncertainty and realness of his time at the Derby. Being thrown back into his life in LA, he realized it wasn’t what he wanted anymore. Working in the corporate world of marketing just wasn’t going to cut it. 

Now, among many other unconventional occupations, Erik works as an interviewer for The Mongol Derby. His job is to make screen potential racers and make sure they’re capable of taking on such an endeavor. He explained to me, with a big smile on his face, how much he enjoys preparing rookie racers for the adventure of their lives.

We all get scared sometimes, but don’t let that fear stop you from finding out what thrills you, what motivates you, what makes you come alive. Throw yourself into the unknown and learn to adapt.

For more on my conversation with Erik, click here.

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