Chapter 7: Rule Three: Focus on One Thing at a Time

I first wrote about the amazing expedition described below in 2007. The story was making news at the time and even now Jason’s voyage continues to command my admiration and respect. It is probably the most extreme way to go ‘outward bound’ but with none of the safety nets I had on my short sojourn in the English Lake District. There are many lessons here for anyone interested in how to go from vision to goals to outcome – without any sugarcoating of the risks and the dangers, the joys and despairs.

Goal Setting and the Incredible ‘Expedition 360’ Voyage Of Jason Lewis and Moksha

It doesn’t get much better than this for students of real-life case studies about goal setting. Two friends come up with an idea (more like a crazy vision!) to put their London lives on hold for a few years and circumnavigate the globe by crossing the equator using only human muscle as their power source.

Try to imagine what 26-year-old Jason Lewis must have thought when his friend, Steve Smith, came up with the idea in 1991. (Apparently, this occurred on one particularly drab and wet Monday morning). No doubt there was incredible excitement in imagining all the places they might go, the challenges to be overcome and the positive impact their efforts might have on raising awareness around protecting the environment. (Remember that this was in the pre-internet early 1990s, when getting media attention and sponsorship interest in the UK, let alone the rest of the world, would have been a challenge in itself.)

There is a refreshing honesty and naivety in watching video from 1994 of the duo leaving London on their bikes. They were headed for the English Channel coast where their pedal boat, Moksha, was being readied. Their first reported mishap was getting lost in the countryside! That old story about taking it one step at a time comes to mind. Only you would have to create a new cliché to describe how they proceeded to pedal their little craft across the Atlantic Ocean. ‘Taking it one revolution at a time,’ comes to my twisted mind.

Although the East-West Atlantic crossing by pedal power was a world first, that was really just the beginning of their incredible experiences. I would encourage you to visit the website (www.expedition360.com) and see for yourself the years and years it took to see that initial vision through to completion.

And by completion, I don’t mean that they planned, executed and delivered in the somewhat sterile and predictable language of goal setting and project management – although there was a small team of dedicated backroom volunteers who probably did use those skills behind the scenes to keep things on track.

No, goals and targets were probably changed, abandoned and created whenever and wherever required. There were constant logistical, cash flow and fundraising issues. No doubt there were some heated discussions from being cooped up in a 26-foot (8 meters) pedal boat!

This was not an expedition where all involved could see a likely end date and then pack up, go home and reflect on the experience. This was stop-start, real-life stuff that would take up just over one third of Jason’s life. I imagine that he must have wanted to call it a day many times over those years, with those original idyllic notions of escaping from the humdrum London life long dissolved and pedaled away in the world’s salty waters and along its dusty trails.

So, what kept him (and his team and family/supporters) going? While it might be easy to say that a vision of ‘taking that pedal boat across the Greenwich meridian line’ must have been a grail-like inspiration, I think that’s too simple. Would you choose to spend years of your life going through a lot of hardship (physical, emotional and financial) for such an uncertain outcome?

I suspect that what ‘drove’ Jason and his team on was a combination of their initial vision and those incredible experiences along the way – especially the educational and humanitarian impact he was making in many places. And while I doubt that getting his legs smashed up by a driver in Colorado was something he’d care to repeat, I wonder what new opportunities that enforced layover in America caused him to unearth and take action on?

This story has such a profound impact on me because I think it shows how simple the whole goal creation process can be. Start with a desired vision, see yourself in some action-taking role, and then get going. In the same year that Jason Lewis and Steve Smith were beginning their great adventure, I left the UK on one of my own. In my case, there wasn’t any physical danger; just sadness at leaving friends and family, mixed with the excitement of creating a new life and career in Japan.

It’s October 2007, thirteen years since the adventure began, and Jason Lewis has come home. Sailing up the River Thames to Greenwich, he knows that one chapter of his life is closing and a new one beginning.

2016 Update:

Jason Lewis has a website at http://www.jasonexplorer.com/ Check out his trilogy of books about the expedition 360 experience – the final one was published in May, 2016.

Exercise 16: Your Great Adventure?

And what about you? What’s your great adventure and what will you be doing over the next thirteen years? Here’s a tip I got from reading about the voyage of the Moksha in 2007. Just put on your 2020 vision and start pedaling!

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