Adventures are, by definition, out of the ordinary. They’re exciting. There’s an element of the unknown in the adventure, however big or small it is. The Odyssey would just be a long, boring story if Odysseus simply plotted out his course to Ithaca and trudged along until he got there. It’s an adventure because so many big things happen: the Trojan War, obnoxious men wooing his wife Penelope back home, and the highly exacting archery competition to win her back, for example.

But adventure isn’t only about big things happening. It’s about how we as individuals and groups meet expected and unforeseen challenges, and how we learn to tap into inner resources we may never have known we possessed in order to bring the adventure to completion. Note the “completion” of an adventure doesn’t necessarily mean triumph. Rocky Balboa ultimately lost to Apollo Creed in Rocky, but he definitely completed the mission he set out to, and experienced triumph nonetheless. While “winning” isn’t necessarily a part of an adventure, one element that is essential to the concept of adventure is that of “high endeavor.”

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What Does High Endeavor Mean?

Some endeavors are necessary. The endeavor of doing the dishes is necessary so that your kitchen remains sanitary and usable, but doing the dishes isn’t exactly a “higher calling.” High endeavor is that which is intrinsically worthy of extra effort and devotion. It is an endeavor that inspires us to be the best possible version of ourselves. In adventure education, high endeavor helps individuals and teams align their actions with their values, whether they’re in the workplace or on the side of a mountain. Without high endeavor, an “adventure” is just doing something you don’t normally do, which you may or may not grow from.

Why Is It Necessary to Adventure?

Have a look at this video about the elements of adventure:

A true adventure is something that changes you. Just as the main character in an epic novel changes considerably by overcoming conflict and obstacles between the first page and the last, the real-life adventure makes you different after than you were before. But it makes you different because you dug deep and aspired, knowing you might not succeed, but knowing also that it was essential to the integrity of your character that you put forward your best effort. You saw the opportunity to enlarge your soul, and you took it. Whether you “won” or not at the end of the adventure, you’re a better person for it.

Consider Situations Where You Have Risen Above Expectations

What are some of your most memorable and proud moments? What did you do that showed you that you were more competent than you thought? This should be in relation to your own expectations, because what’s easy for some people is challenging for others. Whether you trained hard and ran a marathon, whether you learned enough Italian to not have to rely on English when you went to Tuscany, or whether you learned how to bake bread exactly the way your grandmother used to, if you have truly engaged in high endeavor, then almost by definition you have achieved success.

High endeavor isn’t the only element intrinsic to true adventure. Are you ready to challenge yourself and meet goals you may once have thought unattainable? If so, I encourage you to read Adventure in Everything: How the Five Elements of Adventure Create a Life of Authenticity, Purpose, and Inspiration. Adventure doesn’t just take place in a perilous situation or at the mercy of Mother Nature. When you learn to live your authentic life, your entire life becomes a setting for adventure.