Different Views: Rhys Fisher
We first met Rhys Fisher while he was couchsurfing in Ljubljana just before he set off on a 3-month paragliding getaway in the Julian Alps. He immediately came across as a man with the goal of putting more life into his years, and not the other way around. Months later, he is still adventuring harder than ever, and has just begun a 2-year training regimen to prepare for a BIG unassisted paraglider expedition that’ll have him attempting to hike and fly across 1000 km, powered only by the elements! Rhys’s drive and fearlessness is something to be fond of, and he lives by the following saying from Alan Keightley:
“Once in awhile, it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.”
He isn’t a millionaire but he lives as if he was. From hacking the job market without academic credentials to speaking on the BBC about his upcoming expedition, to put it simply, he’s kicking butt. Is he the Tim Peake of the skies? Like all great journeys, it has involved failure, self-doubt, and much more. In other words, he wrestles the same challenges that you do. He is learning to be an adventurer, just as you can.
The following interview with Rhys is an exclusive peek behind the curtain. His recent crowdfunding project inspired us to ask him to try and tell us what’s going on inside. He generously said yes.
How do you interpret your emotions and navigate them?
I’ll be honest with you. For a long time, I haven’t. I’ve always found it hard interpreting my own emotions. But as I’ve gotten better at it, I’ve found that the way I interpret emotions is no different to the way I interpret people…I listen. Now that’s easier said than done, because depending on how emotionally honest you are with yourself, your emotions could be talking klingon… If you feel that you are not in sync with your own emotions, try focusing on becoming more emotionally honest with yourself over the next few weeks.
What would be your advice to be emotionally honest?
My advice would be to practice emotional awareness by frequently pausing throughout the day and asking yourself: what am I feeling this very moment? Spend maybe a minute or two identifying what you feel. This helps build an emotional awareness, and it trains your brain to think emotions are important, and eventually your subconscious picks up on it. Before long it will become easier to know exactly what you’re feeling at any given moment.
Do you think you can learn self-esteem?
For sure. As we grow as people and learn how to use our moral compass, tackle bigger challenges, and how to help others, it’s only natural to feel like a badass. Here’s a quote by Roy Baumeister on Self-Esteem that I found a few years back: “After all these years, I’m sorry to say, my recommendation is this: forget about self-esteem and concentrate more on self-control and self-discipline. Recent work suggests this would be good for the individual and good for society.”
Expanding on this, I believe it’s important to learn how to love yourself, for your virtues as well as your vices. I know it sounds strange to say it like that but the reality is that if you don’t love yourself, it shows. You’ll lack confidence and you won’t really give anything your 100%, which just makes the problem worse. Do something every day that makes you proud to be you, and check out Amy Cuddy’s Ted talk on how body language shapes who you are.
What does self esteem mean to you?
To put it simply, it’s the personal rating I give myself when ranking my own self-importance. Too low and I feel about as important as a piece of gum, and when just right I feel like realizing my full potential. I also see self-esteem as an outcome. An outcome of knowing how I leave a positive footprint in my day to day.
What does independence mean to you?
Freedom of choice. Where it differs from person to person is where someone wants to exercise freedom. Personally, I make an effort to be able to choose where I spend my time, how I spend my time and with whom I spend my time.
What do you think makes someone independent?
Well, I can only answer for myself. I live with the belief that the most valuable asset I’ll ever “own” is time, and therefore my aim is to have as much freedom over it as possible. This is where we get into the topic of money. My personal challenge has always been to find a way of making a living where I can fund my adventures, but also have a lot of freedom over my time.
What does success mean to you?
Being able to spend my time the way I would be spending it if money wouldn’t be an issue – that is success.
What is the difference between someone who’s successful and someone who isn’t? What are they doing differently?
There are a few reasons that come to mind, but the one that I see holding people back most often is fear. Fear of failing and uncertainty to be more specific. These fears, left unchecked, often paralyze and prevents us from doing what is often necessary before we can make real life changing progress. Whereas those who are kicking ass at life are a lot more at ease in situations of uncertainty, and accept that mistakes are just part of the learning process. I’ve found that to better manage fear you need to treat life as just a series of experiments. Some work and some don’t, but so long as the outcome is valuable learning, and that’s not failing.
What is money?
Money is just a means to an end. A vehicle. It should never be the goal.
What is the meaning you assign to money?
It’s gets me from A to B.
What do you think it should mean so it wouldn’t stress people?
I guess they they could see it as a vehicle too – I think it’s working well for me. So long as people start by defining what do they want the money for, they’ll have the equation the right way around.
What do you think makes people want to start something creative?
I’d say it’s not a thought but an emotion. When you start writing or painting–it starts as an emotional pull, and then somehow it feels right so you feel compelled to keep doing it.
What do you think makes someone give up while others keep going?
It’s hard to say because someone who gives up may not have wanted to finish in the first place, so is that giving up? Assuming someone wants to continue–but is struggling–I’d expect that that person isn’t visualizing their goal enough. And if they are, their goal simply isn’t exciting enough or isn’t aligned with their core values. If that’s the case, I’d recommend practicing emotional honesty for a few weeks before adjusting any goals. To keep myself motivated, I implement processes to ensure I know that I’m making progress. While hiking a peak, for example, I’ll regularly look at my altitude to see that I am making progress, despite the peak not looking any closer.
How would you describe your creative process?
Chaotic! (laughs) First of all, I accept that it is a rollercoaster ride. Every time I have ignored this and have tried to control it too much, it hasn’t worked. That’s why I try to work with the chaos. For example, rather than sitting down and expecting to bang out 100 great ideas in a single sitting, I’ll keep keep my phone with me and record them as the ideas roll in. You never know when the next great idea might hit you, so it’s important to work with the chaos, not against it.
Do you have any daily ritual?
Is coffee a ritual? (laughs) But speaking seriously for a moment, daily rituals are hard to maintain when on the road. Everyday is different. But whenever I’ve stayed in a place for more than a few weeks, I make an effort to make my mornings as scripted as I can get them. I believe a good morning ritual makes me more productive throughout the day.
Do you have any ritual to motivate yourself?
I’m naturally an energetic and motivated person. But every now and again I can get a little bummed out too. It’s what I do to keep motivated in these moments that makes the difference. I’m not sure if it can be called a ritual, though, but I definitely start by identifying what is bringing me down and ask myself some questions to find out what I’m up against. I guess I’m really just equipping myself with the right tools to bring me out of my funk. For example, I recently found myself in a situation where I was receiving some verbal abuse which kept me awake for a few nights. At a certain point, I realized that it was nearly impossible to do anything great without pissing off a few people, and so I figured it was way more productive to focus on creating value for those that supported my work.
What would you like to be remembered by when you’re no longer here?
I’m not sure if I worry so much of what people will remember me by. I’m simply trying to achieve my definition of success with the hope that I can empower others to also to do the same for themselves and live happy, meaningful lives.
Is there anywhere you’d recommend people go to find out more about you and what you’re working on?
I occasionally publish to my blog, Agile Existence, where I try to help people learn how to live anywhere, own less, and experience more. And for the past six months, I’ve also been working on the Thermal Crossings project where backers can follow my personal journey to demystify the professional adventurer puzzle.
Photos: Rhys Fisher
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