I’ve written before on this blog about my participation in World Blu’s Freedom-Centered Leadership programme. As part of one of my assignments, I was asked to watch the TED Talk of Ben Saunders, an explorer and one of the few people to have walked solo to the North Pole.
Ben’s talk is fascinating and he delivers his story with much warmth, humour and humility, not afraid to share his trials, challenges and failures, and seems to be a genuinely likeable chap. I was impressed by his ordinariness. In his talk, he elaborates on why he chose to attempt (and ultimately accomplish) his polar expedition. He says he’s interested in seeing how we can stretch our potential and believes that, as we go through life, most people are just scratching the surface of what they are capable of achieving.
I’ve sometimes wondered whether explorers like Ben were somewhat willful in their pursuit of breaking physical limits. It seemed an almost macho competition to try to outdo others. But the humility and authenticity with which Ben shares his passion for exploration inspired and reminded me of my own deeply-held belief that our lives should be about making sure we really are pushing the limits of what can be done, because it is part of our spiritual growth. We all need to overcome limitations in thought and push past our fears and doubts into clearer views and experience of our own goodness and potential.
I especially liked Ben’s comment that ‘no one else is an authority on your potential’. It’s easy to succumb to the opinions of others and to allow their perspectives to colour or influence our path in life. Or to stop us following our dreams. It can take a lifetime to overcome the limitations that parents, society, our education may have placed on our own understanding of what is possible and it’s important that we continue to be self-aware enough of where those little suggestions would try to creep in.
In my own journey, it’s been hard sometimes to filter out the well-intentioned, but often misguided, opinions of others and to be super clear on one’s vision. But each of us has a duty to follow the little voice that urges us to express our unique creativity and gifts to the world.
Remember, there is nothing to be afraid of. Ben is living his full potential.
Are you living yours?
I am a trained actress and founder and director of Hua Dan, one of China’s first and leading social enterprises. Hua Dan uses the power of participation in drama-based workshops to reveal and develop individual and community potential. Hua Dan has a particular focus on working with China’s rural-to-urban migrant workers, particularly women, who work in the manufacturing and service industries, at the heart of China’s economic boom.