Wednesday, March 31, 2010

No Plan B


Earlier this week I shared a what felt like a very apt quote in our current business climate,

"Courtesy of Outside Magazine, please read below on what it's taken Trip Jennings to manifest the job of his dreams- his example is every bit as relevant in our situation as anyone trying something for the first time on their own.

Adventure Icon: Trip Jennings
River Lover

[27, PORTLAND, OREGON]
There's no road map that shows you how to make a living as a kayaker and filmmaker, but last December I knew I had done it when I paid my cell-phone bill on time. The idea behind my first film, Bigger Than Rodeo, was to blend environmental activism and cutting-edge whitewater. I drove around the country in a '96 Subaru Impreza and maxed out three credit cards while showing footage of a paddler running a 105-foot waterfall. It took three more films and two more credit cards to figure out a combination of adventure and activism that worked. You don't get an interesting job by filling out an application; you commit to your dream the same way you do a waterfall: pick your line and dive headfirst. I'm glad I did it. In the past two years, my filming expeditions to Papua New Guinea, China, the Congo, Bolivia, Canada, and Brazil have been paid for through a partnership with National Geographic and the International League of Conservation Photographers. In the next six months I'm scheduled to shoot one film about elephant poaching in the Congo and another about kayaking in Laos. I created my dream job. It all started because I spent a year living out of a moldy Subaru and poaching continental breakfasts at cheap motels.

In 2008, Jennings led a team down the rebel-infested lower Congo, the last of the world's great unrun rivers. His films for National Geographic TV use kayaks to access Class V rivers in the service of science.


What struck me about this quote is that Trip Jennings, like many of the most successful people in the world who have shared their stories, had no Plan B.

This doesn't mean that they didn't plan... you don't get to be an environmental advocate, high performance athlete, world traveller, and documentary maker by the age of 27 without a plan. What no Plan B means is that Trip (and many other icons) refused to allow the thought of Plan A not working to enter into their minds.

Plan A has probably seen many revamps, and it's probably seen many doubtful moments and times of serious self doubt... but there was never a Plan B. I have never had a Plan B when it comes to making changing other's lives through fitness a career; and so I can relate. I have had many ups & downs, but lately there are more ups, and the sustainability of the career is not in question, thanks to 12 years of sacrifice, hard work, and never giving up on Plan A.

The fact is (and the most relevant snippet of today's entry) Jennings didn't know when the next documentary will sell enough so that he could can pay off his phone bill on time. No one knows when their output will start to match or exceed their input.

If you knew you'd be successful and make 10 million dollars by working 90 days, almost everybody would have done it by now, depending on what the work involved.
Maybe 75% of those people would keep at it if it took 900 days to make the same sum.
How many people would last 9000 days? That's not even 25 years to make 10 million dollars, but guaranteed we'd have more who would quit before 'making it'.

The point is - the end goal cannot be the only motivation. The journey must be fulfilling enough that the work itself gives you purpose. Whatever other end goals tied to your work (money, being recognized as a person of expertise, publishing a book, etc) must be planned on as extensions of doing what you love.

I've never met an expert who became famous doing what they hated.
Dream big, dream brave, and dream because it's what you want deep down that will allow you to look in the mirror with your principals intact and a smile on your face; and then set up a solid Plan A that you never look back from.

Plan A, more than likely, will need adjustment, repeated attempts, and advice from others.
But Plan B is what you do after you have already given up on your dreams. Anybody chasing that life???

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