Dare to Challenge

We live in a competitive world where we are constantly being compared with our peers and expected to be as good, if not better.  If you have young children you look at league tables to find the ‘best’ school.  We are constantly looking at reviews so that we can buy what the ‘experts’ think are the ‘best’ products.


Even when I re-applied to the Ordnance Survey to continue as a GetOutside Champion for 2018 I was asked the following question:-

What do you think makes you stand out from other GetOutside Champion applicants?

It appears that we are constantly having to prove ourselves to others to justify our place in the pecking order of society.  In this case though, I can understand why I was asked this question – this was a competition against my peers to be selected for a further year. And that was the problem

In my response to the question I said –

When I compared myself to the other Champions from this year I thought that I couldn’t compete with them. They do bigger, faster and most dangerous things than I can do. But then I stopped and reconsidered my thoughts.

Not only did I ‘reconsider my thoughts’, I also re-read the question.  Sometimes we interpret words how we want to interpret them and not as the author intended them to be interpreted.  In this case the key element was ‘makes you stand out’.  I assumed they meant better which is different to stands-out.

When I re-addressed the question, this is what I came up with –

I don’t have to compete with them, what they are doing (running, walking, climbing or cycling) I was doing when I was their age. But now 20/30 years later I am still doing what they do, albeit a lot slower, but I do it with greater maturity and understanding.

Yes I am still competing with my peers but on my terms.  I have re-leveled the playing field and introduced the one element that I have in abundance over the majority of my fellow applicants  – maturity.  As I summed up in my answer to the OS –

My maturity gives me confidence without flamboyance, it gives me knowledge based on years of outdoor experience. I can call on my leadership and instructional skills developed in the military and the inspirational skills developed as a youth leader with the Scout Association, Duke of Edinburgh scheme and the Youth Clubs. I have a wealth of experience in life that I can relate  directly to what I do in the outdoors.

So why am I going on about how I reinterpreted and answered a question on who’s better or not?  Well that is simple –

I am constantly trying to get the older generation out of their comfy armchairs and slippers to take a walk in the great outdoors.  I some cases it is simple but in the majority the resistance is driven by the misapprehension that they can’t do it because they not as fit as ‘Julia Bradbury’  or not as adventurous as ‘Bear Grylls’.  They are always comparing themselves to others and as a result never rise to the challenge.


What I do is challenge them to do better than themselves!  If they managed to walk 1 mile last week, then walk 1.5 miles this week.  Do not strive to be better than others but to be better than yourself.  Set yourself targets which will gradually improve your fitness and health.

Forget all of these ‘Walk a 1000 Miles’ and ‘Climb Everest Anywhere’ challenges plastered all over the Outdoor Magazines and on social media.  They are there to challenge the established walker and hill-climber.  What you should be looking at to start with a ‘Walk to the Shops’ challenge then progress further.

Never set yourself a challenge that is physically impossible to complete or that is too daunting!  This will only serve to disillusion you and drive you back to the comfy slippers.  Be realistic but challenging as well.  Never be afraid to change your goal, even if that means shortening it to accommodate changes in personal circumstances.  Never set yourself time limits as we have no control over time – yet!

But most importantly – just get out there and have fun


P.S. – We will find out at the end of January whether my maturity was successful in this case!!!

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