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John Amatt explains his unique approach to meeting the challenges of a rapidly changing world in this informative question and answer session...





Q. Why is the "Adventure Attitude" philosophy so important today?

J.A.   We are living in rapidly-changing times, where events around the world (over which we have no control) are inexorably influencing the way we lead our lives in North America. Today, more than ever in human history, there are no guarantees and the status quo is no longer an option. Life is becoming more and more a great adventure! Our ability to achieve happiness and self-fulfillment in our lives now depends upon our learning how to apply the spirit of adventure in converting this uncertainty to our own advantage.





Q. What do you mean by adventure?

J.A.   Its important to realize that adventure isn't hanging on a rope of the side of a mountain. That is just one arena where people can pursue an adventurous lifestyle. To me ... adventure is an ATTITUDE that we must apply to the day-to-day obstacles of life facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and, in the process, discovering our own unique potential. By definition, an adventure is a journey with an uncertain outcome and the pace of change is certainly creating uncertainty in today' s world. Because of this, I believe that it will be the visionary and the adventurous amongst us who will become the leaders of the 21st Century.





Q. Where did you learn about the adventure spirit?

   When I was young, I was very shy and insecure, but I was good at climbing and received international acclaim for my achievements. This gave me the confidence to explore my potential by challenging increasing difficulty. When I was 20 years old, I spent two weeks hanging from tiny ledges while making the first ever climb of the 5,000 foot vertical "Wall of the Giants" in Norway. We slept on ledges only 12 inches wide, with thousands of feet of space beneath us. At the start of the climb, I was scared. But I knew that to achieve the goal I must push through the fear and commit to the first step. It was this realization, and the discovery that when you move towards fear it recedes, that opened up the door to eventually led me to climb Mount Everest





Q. What was the most important part of your Everest experience?

J.A. The most important part of climbing any mountain is to be found not so much in reaching the summit, but in digesting the experience that got you to the top and in learning the lessons from the struggle. On Everest, it was pretty tough - not much fun - but afterwards I was able to reflect and appreciate that I could do anything I chose to do in my life, if I could just focus my mind and commit to the goal. I also realized that the only limiting factor in our achievements in life is our own ignorance and fear. Through the struggles on Everest, I learned that it will take courage, resourcefulness and endurance to meet the challenges of change in the future - the courage to try, to commit, and to take a risk ... the resourcefulness to be innovative and creative in finding new ways of doing old things ... and the endurance to keep going when the going gets tough.





Q. What else did you learn from your struggles on Everest?

J.A.   I learned that there are things in life that will happen, over which we have no control - call them "Acts of God" perhaps. The two tragic accidents on Everest, in which four people died in two days, were beyond our control. It would have been easy to walk away from the challenge after these tragedies and to seek something or somebody to blame. But we realized that the accidents had not been caused by our own negligence. We had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. So perhaps we could learned from the struggle. It was this realization that turned us around, forced us out of our complacency, and subsequently opened up the door for the summit. Today, whenever something goes wrong, I say ... "This is happening ... I cannot change the fact that it is happening ... so what can I learn from it?" I always come out of the situation better than I went in! 



Q. How would you summarize the core message of 'Straight to the Top and Beyond'?

J.A.   We must all view life as a great adventure - an opportunity to be seized. The society that we live in today was developed through the adventurous spirit of the pioneers who settled the land. These were people who left behind security to test themselves against the unknown. In doing so, they committed to action and took risks, recognizing that they would be required to take personal responsibility for the consequences of their own decisions. Nowadays, we have lost touch with that spirit and have created tremendous security and predictability in our lives. This is, of course, the very worst thing that can happen, because security inevitably leads to complacency. The challenge of change today is forcing us to rethink our values and, hopefully, to rekindle the spirit of adventure. Change represents a great opportunity and we must welcome it with optimism. We will all be forced to live on the edge in a way that humans were meant to live!



John Amatt






















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