This World Record Holder Has Taken Courage To Another Level
Not only does it take exceptional physical courage to set two adventure world records, but it also takes incredible mental courage. In this episode, Justin and I discuss:
- The similarities between going on very risky, unchartered expeditions into the unknown and COVID-19.
- How to embrace a adventure thinking mindset.
- How to adapt and innovate when things don’t go to plan during life-threatening adventure challenges and how to apply these insights and be creative during a global pandemic.
- And lots lots more.
Heidi Dening: Hello and welcome to the Wine and Wisdom show. Thank you for being here tonight. If it is your first time, I very much appreciate you trusting in the fact that you’re giving up your time. I hope you have got a little splash in a glass and you’re nice and comfy on the couch, and if you are returning, thank you again for coming back. I love it when I see the familiar faces coming down in the comment section, so please make yourself known and let me know that you’re here.
I wanted to tell you a little bit about this show very, very quickly. Obviously, it’s called Wine and Wisdom, but it’s not just about having a glass of wine together and sharing wisdom. It’s actually a show about connection and I think what we have all learnt over the last few months is, as humans, we crave connection with other humans who bring a smile to our faces, some warmth to our heart, and some wisdom to our brains.
That is why I want to be here with you tonight to not only to connect with you and to share a virtual wine together, but also to connect you with the incredible, talented, and unique people that I have been lucky enough to have in my life somehow, some way. I think the guests that I have on this show are what I would deem the most resilient and courageous self leaders who are making such a difference across our globe.
Let me tell you, tonight is no exception. Oh, my goodness. Have I got a guest for you. His name is Justin Jones. I’m actually just going to bring him up rather than just talk about him with him not being here. Let me bring him up so you can see his smiley face. There he is. Hello, Justin.
Justin Jones: Good day, Heidi. How are you?
Heidi Dening: I’m fabulous. Thank you for being here tonight.
Justin Jones: No. My pleasure. This is so super cool. It’s nice to catch up for a virtual wine. We haven’t seen each other for a while.
Heidi Dening: We haven’t seen each other for a while. What have you got in your glass?
Justin Jones: I have a glass of Tassie Pinot. And yourself?
Heidi Dening: Yes. I have a glass of Pepperjack Shiraz.
Justin Jones: Excellent.
Heidi Dening: Well, actually, one of my other guests told me that I should not say the name out loud unless they start sponsoring me, so I take that back. It’s just a really nice Shiraz.
Justin Jones: Well, maybe they just have to sponsor you now. We’ll reach out to them tomorrow.
Heidi Dening: We will. So, everybody, this is Justin Jones. He is affectionately known as Jonesy, but I have this funny thing about calling people by their surnames and I know that probably the entire universe does it, but I have got to call you Justin. I hope you don’t mind.
Justin Jones: That is completely fine.
Heidi Dening: Thank you. All right. Now, Justin, he has so much to share with us tonight, but we’re going to start, you would have known by reading my blurbs about him that he has two Guinness World Record … How do you say it? Guinness World Record, or should I say Guinness book? Guinness World Records and let me tell you, they are not because he has eaten the most Mars bars on the planet in 24 hours. It is not that kind of world record. He has some incredible, incredible world records. He is going to share some of the insights from that tonight.
Hello to … Oh, we have got Dean. Hello, Dean. Thank you for being here. Or is it Philippe? Hello, Philippe. Lovely for you to be here tonight. If you are live right now, we cannot see if you are unless you make a comment. So, please, if you could let us know what is in your glass at least or where you are tuning in from, that would be terrific.
Justin Jones: Yes, Heidi.
Heidi Dening: Can you share with us or who you are, what you do, and all the wonderful positivity you are sprinkling across our globe?
Justin Jones: I’m a pretty ordinary, average bloke, Heidi, so you have really blown a lot of smoke up me.
Heidi Dening: I don’t think so.
Justin Jones: Look, I actually do firmly believe that I’m an average guy, then. I have done a couple of things in this little, short life span I have had so far. The reason I say I’m ordinary is that you know, I’m not the fittest guy out there, not the smartest, not the best looking, but I have gone out there and chased some pretty big expeditions and adventures. I wasn’t always this way. I started out as a very awkward child. It was the outdoors that helped me sort of unlock myself and become the person I am today.
Some of the trips that I have done over the past 18, 19 years have been paddle from Australia to New Zealand in a kayak unsupported, unassisted. That was 62 days. We paddled 3,318 kilometres. We were not expecting it to be that long. It’s only 2,200 kilometres in a straight line so there was an extra 50% there, 10-metre waves, sharks, that whole palaver.
The other big expedition where you’re referring to another world record was actually skiing from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back completely unsupported. I should mention from the geographical South Pole so where the land ice meets the sea ice, to the South Pole and back unsupported and unassisted. That was 89 days. First time that had been done, 89 days, 2,285 kilometres. That was a brutal expedition. I lost 30 kilos worth of weight on that trip.
Heidi Dening: Oh, my goodness.
Justin Jones: Yes. It’s a good weight loss strategy so Jenny Craig move over, but I think that one of the hardest trips I have done was probably my most recent one. It was out in the Outback walking for 102 days, 1,800 kilometres with my wife and our one-year-old daughter when she was 15 months old. That was brutal, yes, I think because of the intensity of the stakeholder group you have with you, that walked with you.
So, that is some of the things that I have been up to amongst other little trips. I have fallen into a career of being a public speaker, a motivational speaker and I did not know that whole pathway existed. There was just people asking after the Tasman trip to speak at a company this or company that. So, started doing it and realised that it’s a powerful medium to actually be able to share positive stories, lessons learnt from adventure. And then, also, the other side is to make documentaries, which is what I do.
Heidi Dening: Yes, and I would like for everyone to know that when I first met Justin, I saw him speak at an event where there’s a range of speakers there with a whole heap of event leaders in the room looking for great speakers to book. Let me tell you, Justin’s truly and I have not told you this, but your segment was off the chart. It was so remarkably up here and there were great speakers there, but, I mean, you are a master storyteller. You are very, very clever and intuitive with reading a crowd. Of course, you have got these incredible stories. There’s no doubt about that.
But I tell you what and this is why I wanted to get you on tonight. It’s those incredible insights and learnings that you have been able to share with people from those expeditions, from those adventures, through the adversities that you have gone through. What struck me that day watching you, which has brought us tonight together is that adversities come in all shapes and sizes, right?
Justin Jones: Yes.
Heidi Dening: And you have certainly prepared for some of those adversities. You have known that you’re going into them because you don’t get to make a world record by doing something easy. They are challenging experiences.
So, I thought it’d be really interesting for you to talk to us about the similarities between some of the adversities that you have gone into where you have prepared, but, of course, lots of things happen, right?
Justin Jones: Oh, obviously. Yes.
Heidi Dening: During these expeditions that you would never have known were going to happen and how that can relate to all of us who are all going through such major adversities right now. We have no idea what is ahead. So uncertain. What can we draw from all that?
Justin Jones: Look. I have always said that adventure is, all it is is just an activity with an unknown outcome. That is all an adventure is. Adventure’s a very relative term, so no one can tell you what your adventure’s going to be.
For some people, it might be skiing across Antarctica or paddling a kayak from Australia to New Zealand. For other people, that is not their cup of tea. It might be and actually starting a business, in the dramatic arts. It might be on the sporting field. You can have adventures anywhere, but it’s that uncertainty element. There’s the unknown outcome and that is a key part of it. I think right now, what we’re finding is the entire world is on an adventure, it’s on an expedition.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s really hard expedition for some people. I love the analogy of this COVID pandemic being a storm and we’re all out in the ocean navigating this storm, but we all have different boats. Everyone does. Different experiences, different levels of experience, different vessels, different seaworthiness of each vessel.
So, some people are doing it really tough. Other people are really doing it quite easy in reality. I think the number one thing is that we just have to be kind to each other, because we’re all going through the same thing which is not managing it the same way.
So, expeditions I think are a perfect way to draw a line from what we’re doing right now, what we’re going through, because there’s a lot of little tidbits and lessons that you can pull from adventure that I think you can apply to everyday life around preparation, around planning, around risk mitigation, around mindset and how you sort of flip negative scenarios and lean into the discomfort because in reality, the number one lesson I have learnt through all my expeditions is you only grow when you’re uncomfortable. You can’t grow when you’re comfortable. So, this is a period of growth for us. Growth you might not want to go through, but we are going to go through it.
Heidi Dening: Yes. So, can you tell us, Justin, at a time when you had done, I think you had, what, over a year’s planning to cross the ditch.
Justin Jones: Oh! Actually-
Heidi Dening: How many year’s planning was there?
Justin Jones: Three and a half.
Heidi Dening: Oh, I’m sorry. Three and a half years.
Justin Jones: No, no, no, no. That is completely fine. Three and a half years for a two-month crossing, so it’s 90% in the preparation stage and only 10% in the execution, so it’s very weighted towards the preparation. You plan to succeed or plan to fail. It’s up to you.
But the thing is, there’s always going to be curve balls so you have just got to prepare as much as you can, ask all the dark, dirty questions before you head out on the trip, on your expedition, start that business, whatever it is and get pretty inventive with the way you think about these things.
So, some of the things we talked about with the Tasman was, if someone broke a leg, obviously someone got injured, what would you do? But then we got darker. Someone’s family member actually had a severe illness or died actually out there. Would you want to hear about it because it changes your mindset. Or would you want to hear about a bomb going off in Beirut or would you want to hear about a 9/11 kind of event?
So, these are the things that you have got to think about prior to going on a trip, prior to starting a business. They are not pretty. They’re not comfortable, but you come up with an actions on, which is your how-to, what you’re going to do in each scenario, so that when you’re out there, you know what the protocol is. If you start deviating away from that protocol, you know it’s going to be a really, really good reason for you drifting away from that.
Black swan events happen. COVID pandemics, although I think the COVID pandemic was on the cards. I think there were a lot of warning signs, but myself included, I did not want to think about it or believe it, but yes. If you got everything else taken care of, then you can focus your attention on that black swan event, so that the other stuff that you would normally be talking about when it comes up, you’re not thinking about. You’re focusing on what you need to do.
Heidi Dening: Because you can just go straight into we know that this could happen, this is what we have already decided to respond with that.
Justin Jones: Exactly.
Heidi Dening: So, Sharni. Thank you, Sharni. Hello, Sharni, gorgeous girl from Sydney, who was on last time, gold medal winner, by the way.
Justin Jones: Hi, Sharni. Oh!
Heidi Dening: She is asking about the preparations, so three and a half years for crossing the ditch. How long for the Antarctic?
Justin Jones: The Antarctic trip was probably about two, two and a half years of preparation and planning. Something I should mention is that I’m not, prior to the Tasman trip, I had never paddled, or prior to committing to the Tasman journey, I had never paddled a kayak offshore. Prior to Antarctica, coming up with that plan, I have not skied yet.
So, I’m a firm believer that you should never let the lack of skills stop you from having a dream, and so that is part of the process. There was a pretty long period of time where we had to learn how to ski for Antarctica, but I said two and a half years for that.
The quickest trip to plan was actually the Outback expedition. That is because we were on a time limit, because we wanted to leave before our daughter Morgan was a certain age because she would be easy to control when she was smaller rather than if she was two or three years old running around.
Heidi Dening: But, I mean, we had this pre-chat and you were talking about that beautiful picture behind you. It was painted by one of the aboriginal elders that you needed to get permission from to walk through that part. So, that, again, is something out of your control because you don’t know how long that is going to take. If you have got your timeline in mind, seriously, you’re just like, “Well, I have no control over that.”
Justin Jones: You’re actually touching on a pain point because, leading up to that trip, so we tried to do the right thing and engage the Central Land Council and the right councils prior to going out there. We did that X amount of months in advance. We found out we were not getting any feedback from them about how our permit process was going.
Then we ended up going, “We’re just going to have to fly down there and find out what is going out in person,” and to find out that our proposal had actually been sitting on someone’s desk for three months, not being worked on was quite frustrating.
So, it was amazing they activated and Sandy, really the artist of that picture, who is the TA, the traditional elder of that sort of area. He was the one that signed off and he painted that picture that is been sitting over us for the past eight, nine years.
Heidi Dening: Oh, how beautiful. So, Justin. Tell us about a time that you, on one of your expeditions where you have done all your planning, but a black swan actually occurred. It was, “Oh, my goodness, we had no comprehension that this uncertainty, this challenge, this adversity could ever have happened.” What was it? What did you do? What was the mindset for you to go into to be able to navigate through it and still get out the other end?
Justin Jones: I’m trying to think about which, because a lot of things have actually happened on my expeditions that, to some degree or form, I have always, we have been semi-prepared for. So, on the Tasman journey, the desalinators breaking down, equipment breaking down, but you have replacements, you have spares. What I think we were not prepared for was – I actually will tell you two stories. One was something that we had prepared for, but we were not thinking so there was an element of taking our eye off the ball and the consequences of what actually happened. So, I’ll tell that story first.
That was down in Antarctica. So, in Antarctica, on the second day of the journey, we’re climbing up a fairly steep hill. Our sleds behind us weighed about 160 kilos each. So, imagine your household refrigerator at home. Stack that full of beer and wine, push that on its back and start dragging that around your living room. Heavy sleds. In order to get more traction going up this hill, we took off our skis so we were now walking up.
Now, we have been crossing through a crevasse field at that point. Now, a crevasse is a crack in the ice. How you cross a crevasse is you find snow bridges that form over the top of them. Now, we have been crossing these crevasses on our skis and they have held.
And so we approached one, or James approached one, my mate. He went straight into it and he went down and he got about waist deep before the weight of the sled actually held him in place.
Now, we knew that crevasses were an issue, but what we did was we actually changed some variables in our system that meant that … We took our skis off and the skis were distributing our weight over a large surface area. By basically walking up, we have busted a hole through that snow bridge, almost fell down to his death.
So, that taught me a very valuable lesson that if you ever change a variable in a business, in an expedition, you have got to think about the flow-on effects. You have to think about how that flows on.
So, a lot of people right now are reacting to what is happening with COVID and I think to react and to move after thought is fantastic, because to stay static, it’s very hard to start a ship moving when it’s going from scratch where you can course correct, but you have to think about what other flow-on effects in your business, in your personal life will happen if you do X, Y, Z, whatever action it is.
So, it’s nice to think about everything like that, a closed system. I’m changing this variable. What will happen over on this side of the field by changing that variable?
Now, an incident that actually happened on the Outback expedition that we were not expecting and I wouldn’t say it was necessarily a black swan event, but it was a piece of equipment failure that I just had thought was bomb-proof. So, that was on day eight of that expedition. Snapping an axle, it was a big, 20-mil thick axle, stainless steel. I just did not expect that to break.
In hindsight, I realised I made a couple of stuff-ups on the lead up to the journey by having the cart assembled on top of the car as we’re driving down the final stretch of road which had all these corrugations in it, so it basically meant that there was these micro vibrations happening. It ended up putting a stress fracture in the axle.
So, that was an interesting one. Looking down, we’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken cart and trying to work out how we self-rescue ourselves from these situations.
I think the number one thing you can do when things go wrong is you have got to immediately assess the situation around you and ask Maslow’s hierarchy of needs mainly being are you going to die in this situation? If you are, remove yourself from the danger, but if you’re not, take a pause, take a moment, have a cup of tea and think and just think about what your possible actions are and then make a decision off that and then go for it.
We ended up dumping the cart in a bush and trying to find a place to hitchhike out of and then make our way to civilisation so we could make up new axles and then re continue the journey. So, it was an interesting one.
Heidi Dening: Wow! If you’re listening right now live or if you come on later, which we know happens a lot with Facebook Live, please, if you have a question for Justin, put them in the comment. We will come back to them afterwards and answer anything that we don’t get to tonight.
So, please. He is a world record holder. I mean, come on. What questions would you have? Actually, you brushed over something really quickly then, Justin.
Justin Jones: Yes.
Heidi Dening: You talked about that, on the crossing the ditch, you’re paddling to New Zealand and the water… What is it called?
Justin Jones: The water desalinator.
Heidi Dening: The water desalinator broke, because I watched the DVD last night. For you just saying that, I know now what that actually meant. It meant two and a half hours extra every day of physical exercise of you guys pumping to get fresh water so you could actually live, on top of how many dozens, hundreds of kilometres you’re already paddling.
So, you brushed over it like, “Oh, yes. This little thing happened.” I mean, that is quite a big thing that you can’t plan for or did you plan? Was that one of your questions you had, or does it happen?
Justin Jones: No, no. We planned for that. We did plan for that. I mean, so what we worked out with … And I might just tell something. I’m a bit of a nerd, so just excuse me for a second. I want to talk about statistics, so this is going to be mind-blowingly amazing, talking about stats with a glass of wine.
Heidi Dening: That is why I picked up my glass of wine.
Justin Jones: Okay. Excellent, fantastic. Fills me with confidence. Now, if you were to look at the Tasman journey, for example, and you were, just to think about all the possible things that could go wrong, but let’s look at just the items, that if they went wrong, the incidents or pieces of equipment or if something happened. Those items happened, occurred. Then, the trip would be over.
So, all right, and let’s assume for sake of ease, that there’s only 10 things that could possibly break or could go wrong and that would cause an end to the trip. Now, what would you say is an acceptable level of risk there, like a chance of … Would you say, a 10% chance that those things happening is an acceptable level of risk or a 5% chance of happening is an acceptable level of risk?
Heidi Dening: Okay.
Justin Jones: I mean-
Heidi Dening: In a life-threatening situation, my God!
Justin Jones: Right. It’s not like we’re playing Russian roulette, like one in six, but most people say, “Look, I would accept 5% chance.” That is a decent roll of the dice. 19 out of 20 times, you are going to be okay.
Now, if you look at those 10 things and you look at them in series, the chance of actually one of those things happening is about, it’s up to, close to 50% chance of those things happening there. If you add a level of redundancy behind every single 10 of those incidents or items that could break down, then your risk drops down to about 3%. Then, if you add another level of safety behind that, drops down to .5%.
So, knowing that, okay, there’s a pain point, desalinator, we need that to survive. If it breaks, we need an alternate solution. So, we had two levels of redundancy there. So, when that broke down, we could go to the manual pump. If the manual pump broke down, we could go back to the electrical pump, take the motor off that and turn it into a manual pump as well.
Heidi Dening: Yes. During these times of adversity, that was in a time of adversity, because if you don’t have water, of course, it’s a big issue, but right now and our hearts go out to all of our neighbours in Victoria who are, my goodness! I can’t even believe your stats for the last 24 hours. I hope you’re all safe as much as you can be, but things do go wrong.
We have seen Australia was being looked at as this amazing country that kept control of coronavirus, but now, things are changing quite quickly and people are having to adapt. We thought we were adapting and being creative back there in March and April, but those in Victoria are now having to adapt and be creative very, very quickly, again, because what they had pivoted to or adapted or reinvented with their businesses has now been taken away nearly and they’ve got to do it all again.
Do you have any insight about that at the adaption process and that mindset process. I mean, I know you talk about your adventure thinking process and I would imagine that that whole model would be very helpful to people right now.
Justin Jones: Yes, look. I do feel for the businesses out there in Victoria that have pivoted their businesses and done different things and then to have a second wave come along on top of that. Adversity is, it should not be looked as a negative. A lot of people look at adversity and I think reframing is one of the most important and powerful things and just changing the narrative of what actually is bad.
I’ll use an example from one expedition of something, that being stuck in that cabin of that kayak. It’s basically the size of a coffin and a half stacked on top of each other and I already suffer from horrible, horrible, horrible claustrophobia, like shocking claustrophobia. That wasn’t really talked about too much in the documentary, but the cabin is, when I’m lying down because I was down in the tight end because James actually, he gets chronically seasick so he gets the big area so he can vomit out the front door, that the cabin roof is maybe about 10, 15 centimetres above my head. It was an incredibly hostile, horrible place to be in, but what I had to do to get through that situation was to look at the facts and rationalise myself.
I also had a mantra that I used to use every night and that used to help calm me down which was, “It’s not good, it’s not bad. It just is.” This is the situation we’re in. Don’t try and trick yourself you’re in a good situation because your mind and your body knows that inherently, it’s not, and it will fight and reject and act out against you, so accept the situation, but then look at it from a rational perspective. What is actually going on? Are you at risk? Are you in danger? The cabin is an incredibly horrible, claustrophobic place to be in, but the alternative is so much worse, to be out there when a 10-metre wave is breaking down on the kayak. It’s so much worse. You will not survive in that environment. So, realising that is a safe place.
Now, in Victoria, it is terrible what they’re going through, but compared to other places in the world, it’s not as bad. We’re being locked down and we’re being told to sit back, stay inside, stick to curfew, go out there, practise social distancing, stay within a five-kilometre radius of your home. All those things, it’s incredibly confining, but it’s not going to kill you.
So, I think we should always kind of lean into discomfort and use it as a tool to actually look at yourself as a human being and realise why. Why are you uncomfortable with the situation? What can I do differently? What is important to me? When you’re, everything, all the fluff’s stripped away, you actually realise what makes you tick as a human being. Then, when you come out the other side, you can refocus on the things that you really should be focusing on and not on that noise that you’re surrounding yourself with.
So, I think it’s a period of change and it’s a crucible. We’re burning off the excess from our lives and when we come out of it, we’ll be purer people for it. It’s the change that I think we need to go through unfortunately because the world has become too obsessed with growth, too greedy, basically and there’s too much consumption going on. I think this is a nice little check and balance and we’ll come back for it better.
Heidi Dening: I love that. Justin, there’s two world records. It must be this kind of feeling in the tummy that number three is a good number. There’s a hat trick to be made. So, what is going to come up? What is on the charts? What are you thinking about?
Justin Jones: Look. I’m thinking about a lot of things. I’m thinking about a lot of things. So, the hard thing is this is what makes it hard to plan is with what is going on with coronavirus, most of the ideas I have had, to actually to go travel somewhere and do other trips and journeys. One day, I want to panel, so row a boat across the Pacific. I want to sail around the world with my family. We want to do a big cycle trip down in New Zealand because we have now got two kids. One that is sort of nine months old now.
So, there’s a lot of things, but I’m not committing to anything. We do have a young family. It’s very hard balancing adventure with family, so that is part of the reason why we’re on that last trip as a family.
Heidi Dening: Now, you have just put up a question from Magdalene. It’s a super question she just said. Basically that is really easy for me to say about leaning into the whole discomfort, but what tools do you use to block out the noise?
Justin Jones: One of the biggest things that I have used in my expedition is actually to reframe the situation. So, reframe and actually compare. The power of comparison I think is quite a powerful tool.
So, down in Antarctica, towards the back end of the trip, I would lose 30 kilos worth of weight, was bleeding every time I went to the bathroom and was in incredible amounts of pain. I have never been that hungry in my life. I would get into the tent and I would break down and cry. I would. I would feel like a broken human being and I did not know how I could continue.
Something that I drew a lot of strength from, obviously there was the other bloke out there that I tried to show up for them. There was that teamwork angle, but something that really helped me was these two messages that were actually written on the inside of the tent. There were these two messages from girls that were going through their chemo battles, actually the Sydney Children’s Hospital. I look at these notes. They were talking about how inspiring they were finding our trip and I would feel this, almost a bit of a shame kind of creep in.
I had chosen to put myself out there in that situation. I was crying and bitching and winching about it, when these two girls were going through their battles with so much more grace and decorum that I could muster, what gave me the right to actually really complain about that situation?
I mean, life is always going to be hard and I hate to say that there’s always going to be someone who had it worse off, but just be thankful for the things that you have in your life. What I’m doing with adventure thinking, which is something you touched on is I’m currently interviewing a lot of different people actually out there. One of the things I got from one of my guests because everyone’s got different lessons and stories, is just being grateful for what you have and this … Can I tell a little story? Is that okay?
Heidi Dening: Yes. Do it.
Justin Jones: It’s about a friend of mine, Ryan, who actually, he broke his back in five places in a plane crash. He was in the spinal recovery ward. He was trying to roll over. The doctors said he’d never walk again, he’d never recover use of his legs. He was trying to roll over in bed. That was his big task that he was trying to achieve and he couldn’t do it. He said he was twisting and turning. It was too painful, it was too frustrating, and it just hurt too much. He collapsed and stopped. He gave up.
And he remembers looking down his arm and this little gap in his arm and he looked through that and he saw another bloke who was in the room who was a full quadriplegic just staring and looking at him. He said in his eyes, he could see the want, the desire, the frustration that he would never have that ability to even try and roll over. Ryan sat with that. It’s a similar thing to what I just talked about. You got to be grateful for what you do have. There is always a worse alternative and just be thankful for the situation that you are in and what you have as your controllables.
Heidi Dening: Yes. I think that is certainly whether you are in the middle of an ice cave or you are in the middle of a global pandemic going into a second wave, whatever it might be, that adversity. It is about okay, what is in my circle of influence? What can I have a little bit of control over because it’s so easy to catastrophise about all the things that could still go wrong, that are going to be worse than you imagined. It’s human nature for us to go there, our brain goes into that fight and flight and we’re starting to freak out, but when we can bring it all back down and acknowledge that our brain will do that and come back into this circle of influence. What do I have some control of? What is actually okay in my world right now?
Justin Jones: I love the concept also of hormesis as well, a stress that world ordinarily at a high dosage can be harmful or kill you, but taken as a low dose actually makes you stronger as a human being. Exercise is actually a form of that, going to a hot sauna or intermittent fasting, dieting. Those things are all, when you stress your body, that your body actually gains more capability. Stress isn’t a bad thing. Stress is a fantastic thing. It’s actually when you come back down from stress into rest that that is where you have a tendency to fall apart and get sick. Stress when you are stressed, it’s a situation generally where you actually grow as a human being. So, when you come back, you gotta watch out.
So, I think you should lean into it because just knowing each time you are getting stressed and you are in adversity, you are actually growing. Just knowing that, I think helps with the hard times.
Heidi Dening: Yes. Sharni has asked a great question there. Do you think the more connected you are with people, the more stories that are shared to you, the more powerful you became of it?
Justin Jones: It’s an interesting word. I’m funny. I have a reaction to this in the sense that I don’t feel that I’m powerful. I think sharing these stories, it’s not about trying to reflect it on myself. It’s trying to just help people on their own journeys. So, I suppose there’s a power in that, but it’s not about me. It’s not about the …
I think if you asked me this 10 years ago, I probably would have given you a bit of a different response. There was a lot more ego wrapped up into me, but on the trips that I have gone on, I think there’s been a lot of ego that is been striped away realising how small and insignificant we are as individuals, but as a collective group, that ripple effect that we can have on those people around us is where the power is, so connection to people is what I crave and what I desire. I want to promote.
So, yes. That is a bit of a butchered answer to that question, Sharni, but I hope you got something from that. Help me out, Heidi.
Heidi Dening: Definitely, no. Well, it’s that whole connection piece and I understand what you’re saying even when we we’re younger, there is a lot of ego attached to many things. You’re these two young guys going across the ditch and this documentary made over you. I don’t even know you, my best friend or anything, but there’s just this beautiful change that goes on as we go through years. We reflect and we can see how things are different and what you extract from and what you can teach because really, as you said, when you did that trip, it was never about then you thought, “I’m going to be standing on stages and [having extract the 00:35:27] lessons,” and empower other people to maybe challenge themselves just a smidge in life, just a smidge.
Justin Jones: Yes. I think one of the biggest gifts you can give is you can create a population that is actually chasing passion a bit more because a passionate set of people is a population that we need, a passionate population is a world that is going to be thinking about each other, it’s going to be thinking about their goals, it’s going to be thinking about better things, not negative things.
I just re-read Sharni’s question a second again and I see a part that I did miss there and that is that, yes, there’s a lot of conversations I am having with other adventurers and speakers and whatnot. What I want to do is it does make, I suppose, the movement that I’m trying to create around adventure thinking more powerful because as one person, you only have one angle at a problem and a solution or an issue. With other people actually out there, you get different takes on it. I’m not the smartest guy out there, so I will happily sort of collaborate with other people and bring in their lessons and credit it back to them, obviously, but yes. It’s about sort of creating, I suppose, a set of tools for the collective humanity.
Heidi Dening: I love that. And yes, so Sharni has responded with that, what you’re capable of to give in life. Yes.
Justin, I know that, in March, your diary changed pretty dramatically, very quickly. Things were deleted immediately over a period of week for your entire 2020, things you have had to adapt and be creative and do things differently. You have had to extract. You have had to go into your tool kit, in yourself, haven’t you, with what you have learned from your adventures to be able to navigate out of this god damn adventure that we’re all on right now.
So, my question to you, though, is you have got two young kids at home. You’re trying to navigate this virtual speaking world and training and development through a screen. It’s not easy. What are you doing for you that is helping you to keep your resilience strong because I know that you teach this and all these things that are going on, despite how deep and good our toolkits are, they can chip, chip, chip away at our own resilience, right?
Justin Jones: Oh, 100%. Yes.
Heidi Dening: And we need to be putting things in place. So, what are you doing to keep your resilience strong?
Justin Jones: Yes. Super, super question. Look, I am probably one of the worst people that, when I’m in the comfort of my home, I can fall back into pretty negative patterns. Not negative, I should say, but fairly static patterns where and I might just tell this in a roundabout way. On an expedition, I have this mentality, this mindset of where I am and this is where adventure thinking stems from. I’m unstoppable. You can put any obstacle in front of me and I will find a way through it.
Something happens to me back home. I spill a coffee over some papers, I’ll have a big hissy fit. It’ll be a big drama, palaver, rah, rah. The person that pulled me up on this is actually my wife, Lauren. She is like, “What is going on? If you’re in an expedition, you just move on, you’re emotionless about certain things. You crush it. You just find a solution, but here, you’re crying over coffee spilled on a table. Honestly? What is going on?”
It made me realise that I switch in and out of what I call an expedition mindset. So, I have learnt some triggers about how to kind of switch myself back in and a lot of it is a bit of gameplay and role playing where you actually go, well, you put on a bit of a different persona, a different armour, so you don’t quite feel that if something negative happens, that it’s going to actually really hit you deep inside because you’re putting on a slight different variation of yourself, so it’s just going to just glance off you to a degree because it’s not truly yourself. You won’t take it as personally. Now, I find that is quite powerful.
But what am I doing for myself? I have been stuck when it got really bad in Sidney for a couple months. I live in Corona Beach, I mean Bondi Beach, with all those backpackers that were having parties. I mean, seriously guys. You can hear them just going ballistic at them. Anyway, don’t startle me.
What I realise was that I was forgetting all these lessons and all these things that I know I need to do. So, for me, it’s consciously taking time out and doing some things myself and, for me, it’s generally in the water. So, they closed down the beaches, but I spear fish and I free dive. That time in the water is a forced presence. You have to be present to your situation. In the water, you got to be looking around. You got to be taking care. You can’t be thinking about what is going to happen the next day or tomorrow or an hour’s time. You’re focusing on the now. What that does is just brings you back to reality and forces you into the situation. When you come out of it, you realise how much you are thinking about different negative permutations about things that have gone wrong in the past, things that are going to go wrong in the future. That just check is so, so powerful, so the meditation mindfulness piece that I get from diving is what was really helping me.
Heidi Dening: Yes. I’m sure. It would be something very special to, of course not everyone around the world has access to Bondi Beach.
Justin Jones: No, no.
Heidi Dening: But, I mean, most people in Sydney have access to some form of water and there’s something beautiful about being in nature and salt water and the sun shining. It changes everything.
Justin Jones: It’s actually, yes, no. It’s been scientifically proven. Access to nature is such a powerful thing that we need as humans. You will recover from stress so much faster if you go outside for a walk and see trees rather than sharp lines and angles. The colour blue has actually been proven to actually help that happen as well.
So, yes, yes. Exactly. Like meditation. Meditation forces you into the presence, forces you to think about your breath and brings you back to yourself. So, really powerful.
Also, seeing the joy in small things and realising that the negatives can be positives. So, I mean, by nature of what I do, when I’m at home, I’m at home a lot and I can be a present dad, but I realise that the little activities like my daughter and I have just been baking up a storm since COVID has kind of hit us, and she can now, she is four years old. She can go off and make a set of scones by herself in the kitchen.
Honestly, all that I have to do basically is the oven. She can do that. It’s so much fun. So, seeing the joy in the small things. That is what is happens in the process of an adventure. You go through a survival stage. You go through and adaptation stage. Then, the survival stage, you don’t see the positives. You just focus on the negatives. You got to focus on the tigers that are going to jump out of the grass to try and get you.
When you get past that, though, you start seeing, “Oh, you know what? On those trees or those leaves where the tigers could be hiding by, actually that is really beautiful because there’s these cobwebs that are there glistening in the sun and you see the beauty in the situation. You realise it’s not that bad. So, it’s trying to look for the beautiful moments. I think that is really important.
Heidi Dening: Last question for you. It is the Wine and Wisdom show. We have been having a little wine. You have been giving wisdom. But I do want to know what has been the most impactful piece of wisdom that somebody has handed down to you or said to you. What was it and what impact did it make on your life that you have been able to then, I don’t know, shift things, change things, be a better person because of it? What has it been?
Justin Jones: Oh, jeez. That is tough. I think there’s been in so many people that have passed on tidbits. All I am is an amalgamation of my experiences and amalgamation of bits of advice that people have given me. One of the things I think I have got to … There’s so many jumping to mind.
Okay. A couple of notable ones. The electrical engineer, a guy called Craig Thompson, who actually helped us on the Tasman journey. He said something that is almost a bit of a backhanded payout in a weird way, but it’s actually really a handy bit of advice. He said, “Look. You guys when you’re in this kayak, you’ll get across. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to get across, but you’ll get across. The one thing you have to be is you have to be disciplined. You have to be disciplined because things are going to break and you have to cut things off at the pass before they become a real issue. And if you do that,” and he said, “You guys are not the most fantastic paddlers or anything out there, but if you take care of your systems and take care of your protocols and you’re disciplined in your actions, then you’ll get across.”
I take that approach to a lot of things I do in my life. Whenever I’m feeling like, “Oh, I’ll do it later,” I see Craig in my mind. He is like, “You have got to be disciplined, you have got to be disciplined.” So, we actually wrote that down in front of each of our cockpits actually. It’s something that I do try and take into every day.
A couple of other powerful pieces of advice that people have said to me along the way and then I have later experienced. Sometimes, I don’t listen to advice. You have to experience the hurt first. One I think this is a really nice rephrasing of it’s not failure. It’s just gathering information. You never fail in life unless your actions cause a critical death or something like that. Generally, what people call failure isn’t really failure. It’s just you’re gathering information for the next time you try to do it.
Heidi Dening: Yes. Yes. I like that.
Justin Jones: And I think that is super.
Now, another one that I am wholeheartedly jumping on the bandwagon of now more than ever. I can be a bit of a perfectionist is that perfection, it’s not a standard. It’s an obstacle, and we have got to drop this obsession with perfection, because nothing’s perfect. We’re living in an imperfect world and expecting perfection is just stupid. It’s going to because you have so much frustration and heartache. That is why I think people are struggling with what is happening now. It’s an imperfect time and we’re imperfect people.
Heidi Dening: On a daily basis, I would say the expression, perfection is a fairy tale.
Justin Jones: Yes. Yes.
Heidi Dening: And so, as I’m tweaking, tweaking, tweaking, trying to make something better. It’s like, “How do you just do it, get it out there?” Perfection is a fairy tale.
Justin Jones: I love it. I love it.
It’s a great way to say it as well. I’m trying to teach my daughter at the moment that life’s not fair. It’s a little bit hard trying to teach a four year old that.
Heidi Dening: I’m going to punch her face really good. Justin, thank you so much for being here tonight, sharing your amazing expedition insights, your wisdom around how that all relates to growth mindset really for times like these, adverse times, challenging times, uncertain times. We very much appreciate you being here and, yes, I can’t thank you enough.
Justin Jones: Look, it’s been so much fun and I’m excited for when things come back from COVID, but they’re not going to come back to the same normal, so I think we just got to expect a newer heightened state of humanity after this. It’s going to be one that, maybe we can’t hug as much, but the intention to hug will be there a lot more.
Heidi Dening: It sure will. If you would all like to find out more about the whole process of this adventure thinking and how you can come through uncertain times and change your mindset and build your resilience, if you go to adventurethinking.com. Just dot com, is that right?
Justin Jones: Dot com, that is correct. Yes.
Heidi Dening: Just dot com. Justin has lots of info there and he is doing his live shows. So, I’m sure you would love it. I’m going to put that in the show notes.
So, thank you, everyone. Cheers to everybody. I’m going to cheers across the screen to … It’s weird when we have to do it that way, doesn’t it?
Justin Jones: Oh, sorry. Actually, it will work that way.
Heidi Dening: That is all right. All right. I hope you all had a wonderful Wednesday night. Thank you for being here. I will see you in two weeks. Thank you, Justin. It’s been amazing.
Justin Jones: Thank you so much to everyone that is joined in. Thank you, Heidi. Appreciate it.
About Justin Jones:
Justin Jones – otherwise affectionately known as Jonesy, is Australia’s pre-eminent Explorer, keynote speaker, adventure thinker and storyteller.
His expeditions have taken him to the very corners of the world. From the depths of blizzards in Antarctica, to the terror of 10 metre waves towering above – in a storm at sea and the suffocating heat in the heart of the Outback. He currently holds two Guinness World Record and a place as one of Australia’s 50 Greatest Explorers of all time.
Crossing the Ditch
In 2008, Jonesy along with expedition partner, Cas, paddled a kayak unsupported from Australia to New Zealand. They kayaked paddling 3318 km over 62 days.
Crossing the Ice
In 2012 he then skied 2275km from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back over 89 days, completely unsupported setting another world first. It became the longest unsupported unassisted polar expedition ever undertaken.
Crossing the Outback
In 2017 Jonesy, his wife Lauren, and one-year old daughter, Morgan undertook an 1800km trek across the Australian outback. For 102 days they lived wild, attempting to challenge the belief that you can’t lead an adventurous life and a family life at the same time.
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