Why a Micro-Adventure Can Be Just as Thrilling

Hello and welcome back! It’s summertime and I’m thinking a lot about how travel and adventure can be transformational. But it doesn’t have to be epic. It can be right in your backyard! Read on.

Recently my wife and I set off with our friends Kris and Susan to bicycle around the famed Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Cape Breton Island sits at the far eastern end of Nova Scotia, overlooking the remote Gulf of St. Lawrence, home to migrating whales. The Cabot Trail is a gorgeous park road encircling the island, undulating with the rugged coastline.

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On the left above is the roadway skirting Cape Breton Highlands National Park on the climb up French’s Mountain. On the right (where I took this photo after that long cycling climb) is the Skyline Trail footpath facing north into the open Gulf of St. Lawrence. The four of us had been dreaming, and planning, for this trip for a few years. Finally, after the Canadian border opened, the timing was right.

Together, my wife and friends can recount every mile of the road cycling, each kind conversation we had along the way, every interesting cabin or campsite we stayed, and likely every game of cards as well. It’s the nature of travel and adventure that makes travel experiences indelible. Travel opens your mind, stretches your boundaries, and ignites new passions.

While I’m writing this to argue that you should plan, and commit, to an epic travel adventure of your own to deepen your relationship with your companions, novel places in the world, and even yourself, I’m also writing this to suggest that adventures don’t always need to be so epic, distant, and planned. You can have a micro-adventure right out your own front door.

“A micro-adventure is an adventure that is short, simple, local, cheap — yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding.”

-Alastair Humphreys

Alastair Humphreys once bicycled 46,000 miles around the world over a few years, and was described in 2012 by National Geographic as “Adventurer of the Year.” But he also coined the now common term “micro-adventure.” National Geographic asked him what his own favorite micro-adventure was, and he said:

“The River Thames is thought of as this horrible river. If you go a little ways out of London it becomes a nice countryside river. I decided to swim it. If you jump into the river, the banks are a meter above your head and you can’t see any houses at all. You feel like you are completely in wilderness. I spent two days swimming down the river, sleeping on the banks.”

Well, Humphries thinks swimming in the River Thames for a couple days is a “micro-adventure.” That might not feel quite micro to us. However, he also spends about 15 minutes once each month climbing the same tree in his backyard to observe the changing of the seasons, and the changing of the tree.

Here’s what a micro-adventure is and why you should do it. A micro-adventure doesn’t have to be a months-long elaborate undertaking of planning, requiring lots of new gear, map studying, and cajoling friends to join. A micro-adventure is meant to be a concentrated, short, intense – and new – experience, with all of the same refreshing physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

Sleep in your backyard, hike by the full moon, or even try cooking a new recipe. One of my favorite small adventures is to try something that is new to you, but with a friend who is skilled. For example, I would likely not take myself surfing, but when I surf with our son, he knows where to go, how to prepare, the social conventions of the line-up, and when to drop in without offending someone. He even knows where the best sandwich is afterwards.

I once read about a father-daughter micro-adventure in which they intentionally parked a mile or two away from their destination, turned off their phones, and asked directions to navigate the city. Perfect mini adventure. You get to be present, mindful, and solve a fun problem. Together.

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Here’s a photo of our friend Kris in full adventure mode with us in Cape Breton.

Go forth and create a new adventure of any size!


Recently I wrote about Mindscaling’s big project to convert Faisal Hoque’s book, LIFT into an interactive learning documentary. You can see previews of that elearning project, and his important new book here. Our company Mindscaling, is busy building powerful online micro-learning experiences to drive the human change that propels your team. You can find our catalog of high-impact courses here. And if you want something more tailored, you can learn about our custom work here.

My book Small Acts of Leadership, is a Washington Post bestseller! You can grab a copy here. And if you want to learn to apply some of these ideas and be an effective coach for your team, we wrote a course on that too. It’s called Coaching for Managers available over at UDEMY for Business.

LottaGuru Highlight Reel

We had a fun time constructing this demo reel to highlight some of the business gurus and leaders we have interviewed on the core behavioral change goals for many organizations.  Only bummer is that of the over two hundred speakers who have contributed ideas, I could only select less than a dozen insights to keep the video a  manageable size.  On Leadership I picked Jim Kouzes‘ definition of leadership and Howard Behar on the power of giving trust.  For Effectiveness and Execution we chose our favorite counter-culture guru Jonas Ridderstrale talking about the importance of weirdos in your organization and Anne Mulcahy stressing the value of failing early and often.

For Change Management we had to select John Kotter talking about how to develop a sense of urgency, coupled with Jeff Immelt describing how they identified the characteristics of the leading innovative companies.  And finally for Strategy and Innovation we selected a clip of Michael Treacy defining Innovation, Brad Anderson describing how they innovated the sales process at Best Buy and closed with Chip Heath talking about how sometimes it’s best to find a metaphorical box to think inside of, in order to drive innovation that can be successfully implemented.  What fun – we have so many great speakers to share I might need to make another one soon.  Enjoy!

Face the customer, not the CEO

don_sull2.jpgWe’re producing a live, interactive event on Feb 26th with Jonas Ridderstråle and I can’t wait. Yesterday I peeked at his slide deck and he’s got this killer quote: “Hierarchy is an organization with its face to the CEO and its ass to the customer.” Some attribute this to Jonas Ridderstråle and Kjell Nordström’s book, Funky Business. I’ve also seen this attributed to Jack Welch. In any event, its an important message and a pretty consistent one throughout the people we interview, read and pay attention to. Most recently I posted on Lynda Gratton’s research demonstrating that one of the key criteria of igniting a “Hot Spot” – an innovative and engaging collaborative environment within an organization – is lack of heirarchy. People need a sense of trust and openness to express their best ideas. This can only happen in an environment where people interact as peers.

Don Sull has a similar message: Leaders in organizations have a responsibility and obligation to work harder than they often think to foster an environment of open and creative thinking. Often suggestions from executives become orders when they were really intended as suggestions. So as a leader in the organization you need to work extra hard to allow all players to contribute openly.

LDC Reviewed by TMR and Bersin

ldc_bersin.jpgRecently the Leadership Development Channel has been reviewed by Training Media Review and Bersin Research and we’ve been picking up some major kudos from the industry. We don’t want to over emphasize how great this video learning service is, but we thought it was cool enough to mention here in our journal. Bersin was kind enough to write:

“The Leadership Development Channel is an innovative learning tool that includes a unique collection of on-demand video learning programs. The videos, featuring prominent thought leaders and CEOs, are designed to accelerate the performance and success of leaders at all levels. Building upon SkillSoft’s already extensive library of learning assets, the LDC provides executives and managers with progressive thinking in business and leadership in a dynamic, engaging and easily accessible video format.”

You can read the entire Bersin Review here and the Training Media Review here. Enjoy!

The Golden Rule of Customer Loyalty

fred_reichheld_2.jpgAre you a Loyalty Leader? When people ask your customers about your business, what will they say? Izzy Sharp, founder of the Four Seasons, Colleen Barrett, CEO of Southwest Airlines, and other true Loyalty Leaders live by the “golden rule.” Relationships worthy of mind share and investment are based on the simple notion that we should treat our customers the way we would want and expect to be treated. Sound trite? These Fortune 500 companies and others, including eBay, have built their business model on this key idea of building relationships of integrity with their customers.

Fred Reichheld contends that in every interaction with your customers, you have an opportunity to create Promoters, Passives, or Detractors. Companies with the highest loyalty see properity as a second-order benefit – where the true primary goal is to create authentic relationships based on the golden rule. Money will follow.