The Explorer Motivation

For years Columbus traveled throughout Europe pitching his idea. The knowledge he gained gave him certainty, and this fired his motivation.

The Explorer Motivation

I’ve noticed a trend developing in the recent books I’ve read. My shelves are now filling up with historical accounts of the early explorers and their voyages. Why am I drawn to these stories? Apart from the obvious adventurer qualities, I am very much interested in finding out what drove these people. What pushed them to take such enormous gambles and sail into the unknown. 

This question of motivation has got me thinking the things that drive each of us? Why do some people take a risk and start their own business, and others don’t? Deep rooted motivation isn’t something that’s easily acquired, we all know of sports people or leaders whose difficult early life drove them to achieve great things. But these are examples often shaped by external factors and circumstance. What can we do to foster our own internal motivations, what will push us to achieve more, to break out of our world.

Learning = validation = motivation.

New learning has always been a real motivator for me, I want to know more today than I did yesterday, I want to understand a given topic in detail. It’s about building confidence in my own abilities and developing skills.  However, I don’t want to just hoover up information for the sake of it. Learning has to have a focus and a goal, it should lead to achievements and these become my motivational drivers.

For years Columbus traveled throughout Europe pitching his idea. The rulers of Portugal, France, and England. All rejected him before the Spanish court agreed to back his plan. The knowledge he gained gave him certainty, and this fired his motivation. Had he doubts or lacked conviction, he likely would have given up his search for backing.

Land Ahoy

So how do we tap into the explorer in each of us? What questions will motivate us to take risks and seek our own adventure? We need to find our passion, something that can focus and drive our learning. Along the way, it’s important to stop and look around, take stock of where you're at and where you want to go.

Sadly for Columbus, his singular focus on finding China blinded him to what he had achieved. He never received much of the recognition and rewards that were due to him. At the end of his book, Laurence Bergreen states that Columbus “... had discovered everything, but learned nothing.”

What the story of Columbus has taught us, is that passion and knowledge will help point the way, but keeping our eyes open for new land, is what determines success.

History has judged many of our early explorers as arrogant, reckless or naive. This may well be the case, but these attributes were necessary to get their expeditions up and running. Traits coincidently also found in many successful entrepreneurs, taking a chance is ok, but negating the risks by learning as much in advance, is a much better idea.


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