Update: Since the time of this writing, I have completed two more crossings.
My impossible vision: On foot, I will cross every single country in the world.
I will be running across almost all the countries, but I qualify this expedition by saying “on foot” because some countries will be crossed with skis.
No bikes though. All on foot.
(To be perfectly honest with you, even writing this is making the butterflies in my stomach go wild. A big part of me wants to allow myself the luxury of bikes, but instead I think I am going to listen to those butterflies 🙂 )
Why would I do this?
To discover the boundaries of the human potential and to test my own personal limits.
Since I left behind my life of drugs just 12 or 13 years ago, I have sought out various opportunities to push myself mentally, physically and spiritually.
I have almost been smashed by a falling rock while glacier caving in the Himalayas, I have been ice diving in a wetsuit, cave diving, skydiving, mountainering all over the world and I have served 6 years in the Marines including one tour in Iraq.
In 2012 I quit a corporate job to build a business that I am now successfully running today.
I am fortunate to have found success in all my endeavors, even through the failures. I have not reached the summits of every mountain I attempted. I have lost a lot of money. I have gone through many challenges to build my business. But collectively, all these experiences have taught me that the limits of the human potential can only be tested through struggle.
As Thomas Carlyle said, “adversity is the diamond dust with which heaven polishes its jewels”
So I now continue my journey to push these boundaries by crossing every country in the world on foot.
As it turns out, before I even dreamt of this expedition, I had already crossed one country: Greenland.
The video at the top of this article is a short montage documenting that journey. To make the crossing I spent one month dragging a 190 pound sled 350 miles in temperatures as low as -40 degrees. On the very first day, my legs cramped up while dragging the sled at its heaviest up and down the ice dunes that defined the first three days of the crossing.
It was a tough crossing. Turns out it will be one of many 🙂
The second reason I chose to undertake the expedition across the world is that as you all know by now I love to travel.
I see this expedition as an opportunity to explore the beautiful planet that we have been gifted with while engaging with the hundreds of different cultures in our human family. And there is no better way to do so than on foot where you really immerse yourself in the land and it’s peoples, as opposed to flying through it or even speeding through it at over 60 miles an hour in a car.
And so I call this multi-year journey across the world Expedition Unity.
Expedition Unity’s mission and vision
The mission is to unite the human family that is currently torn apart with strife through the the realization that despite all the unique qualities within every single human being, we are all one.
I will be documenting the entire journey on camera: my struggles, my joy, humanity’s struggle and humanity’s joy. Through these universal human conditions, which I will experience in self and others through this undertaking, I will demonstrate our resilience as a species. In turn this will reveal that regardless of our background, nationality and religion, we all share the same experiences of life.
In service of this mission, I will be raising 1 million dollars for the organization Create Global Healing. Their vision “is for adults and children worldwide to connect with each other in a spirit of “oneness,” and an unbroken circuit of giving and receiving so that we can all participate in co-creating a better future for ourselves and our world.”
Among other things, their work has brought together survivors of the genocide in Rwanda with victims of the Newton massacre in Connecticut. Their work to help children heal through trauma and ultimately embrace it to build a positive future for themselves is remarkable. It is exactly in line with my overall life mission to help others embrace adversity and use it to find affluence.
The obstacles to crossing every country in the world
The most obvious one is the mental and physical fortitude it requires to successfully accomplish this monumental feat.
The next is the financial obstacle. It will cost a lot of money to travel to every single country and manage the logistics for each crossing.
Then there is the challenge presented by the terrain in countries covered by mountains, deserts or forests.
And finally there is what I believe to be the greatest obstacle, political instability. I would rather not get kidnapped, tortured and potentially killed while undertaking this expedition. And there are some countries where that is a very real possibility.
But like any worthy endeavor, of course there will be obstacles. I don’t know yet how or even if I will overcome all of them.
As of right now though, I have the grander vision in mind and am focusing on that. I will simply keep taking one step at a time to arrive at my destination, breaking down each wall as it shows up, without any concern for the walls that lie miles down the road.
On a side note, if you are more interested in the logistics, the routes I have planned or any other details of this long term expedition and how I intend to accomplish this, please post your questions in the comments below and I will be happy to answer them.
The purpose of this post is to focus on the grander vision, purpose and most importantly how you too can accomplish your own impossible dreams.
The 6 step formula for accomplishing the impossible
This process works no matter what the impossible dream may be for you, it just happens to be crossing every country in the world on foot for me:
1. Create an impossible dream that scares you and fills you with excitement at the same time
It took me just over 3 years from when I first dreamt of crossing Greenland before I finally crossed it.
The journey did not begin when I set foot on the icecap, it began when the idea took shape in my mind. That is when every great endeavor begins.
And so I ask you what is your amazing, impossible, unreasonable goal? Even if it seems unrealistic at this point in your life, think of one anyway.
We all have one. I know you do too.
The problem is that most of us have no clarity on what we want, because of course then we won’t get it. Almost every single person I have ever spoken with in my line of work has never been able to answer with clarity the simple question, what do you want.
If you want more money, how much more? If you want to be happy, how will you know when you are happy? If you want to take more vacations, how many more and where do you want to go? If you want more customers, how many more?
I think you get my point.
To do anything impossible, first get very clear what it is you actually want to accomplish. Don’t worry about the how just yet. Just get extremely clear on the what.
2. Devote yourself entirely to your pursuit
Since this vision has been implanted within me, all I can think of is running. I dream about putting one foot in front of the other. I feel constant anxiety and excitement about the next country I will cross.
That anxiety lives within me and it makes me feel alive. It makes me feel like life is worth living.
Commit yourself entirely to your vision. Live, sleep and breathe it.
You may have other commitments and that’s okay, we all do. I have a business to run and a family to take care of. But your vision can be a part of your other commitments, not separate from them.
My vision is only going to help my business grow and the inspiration I feel in preparing for it makes me more alive and present with my wife. Simply figure out how you can connect your impossible vision to your other commitments. There is always a way to do so.
Become your dreams and they will become a part of you. Then they will become real.
3. Embrace the tedious and the mundane
This is the key to success in any endeavor. It is the most important skill to acquire.
One of the biggest problems with seeking out motivation and inspiration in general is that it is exciting.
People walk out of seminars feeling fantastic and all-powerful. They buy information products with unbridled enthusiasm and excitement. They listen to speakers and walk away charged up to take on the world.
But change only happens in the boring and mundane process of repeating small actions over time. Small actions like putting one step in front of the other. Or writing for a few hours every day. Or getting just one new subscriber.
For me, crossing Greenland was tedious and painful at times. Check out this video for how I trained for it:
Dragging tires for up to five, six hours a day was miserable. Even when I didn’t wear the gas mask, which I did not for the most part. Nonetheless, I hated it. It was boring. Especially because unlike running, which I do actually enjoy, the tires forced me to move so slowly that I barely covered any ground in the time I spent dragging them.
But it got me across the icecap.
Similarly, most of what you do to achieve the impossible will be extremely mundane.
Embrace that. Consistent, disciplined action over time leads to impossible results. They do not happen overnight.
As I said, I am not ready to run across every country in the world. Not just yet. But to get there, I will have to run much shorter distances regularly to build up my strength. I will have to constantly focus on preparing for the impossible. No matter how much I may want it at times, I will not become someone capable of running two marathons a day for days on end overnight. It will be a slow and long process to get there. It will take me a year or maybe even more of CONSISTENT training before I can even attempt some of the bigger countries like America, Canada and Russia.
That’s just what it takes in life, no matter what you want to achieve.
4. Create more than you consume
To give credit where it is due, I first heard this concept from Marie Forleo.
All successful people consume knowledge, that’s how they grow. Tony Robbins read over 700 books to develop the level of expertise he now possesses. Warren Buffet says “reading is the most important part of his job.” So consuming is necessary. But the difference between successful people and failures is that they spend more time creating than consuming. Their creating to consuming ratio is always greater on the creating side. All those books would have meant nothing to Tony Robbins unless he created his seminars, his books and his products.
If you were to track your time, do you spend more time taking action in service of your impossible vision or learning what it takes to achieve that vision?
To cross every country in the world, it is necessary for me to learn more about building endurance, nutrition, and managing the logistics in each country, among many other things.
But ultimately, no matter how much I learn, the only way I will get across every country in the world is if I put one step in front of the other. Only if I directly work toward creating the result I am after.
So whether or not, I am ready to run across every country in the world just yet, I will create first, then consume.
My first creation is this announcement. The next one will be to cross one country this week, despite not being ready for it. I am simply going to take a leap of faith.
6. Set preemptive strikes
Arthur Ashe once said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”
Yes, I know, I just said I am not prepared for running across a country this week. Not physically at least. I am just seizing an opportunity that presented itself out of the blue. Not to mention, being somewhat of a masochist I like the idea of pushing myself far beyond the limits of what I am prepared for. I want to see if I will be able to push through the walls I know I will be hitting.
But I will be the first to admit, this is not the smartest way to do things in the long run. It will work once, maybe even twice. The reality is though, to cross the bigger countries and to actually succeed in this endeavor, I will need to be far better prepared than I am now.
In order to do that, I will set preemptive strikes.
Preemptive strikes are explicit written commands to the self for when you will do something, what you will do and how you will do it.
Elderly patients in Scotland who used preemptive strikes to plan out their recovery actions, such as taking baths or going for walks, recovered three times faster than those that did not use them.
A preemptive strike then is nothing more than scheduling something in detail into your calendar.
In order to prepare effectively for an expedition of this magnitude, I will be creating a daily, weekly and monthly training schedule that will explain in detail when I will run, how much I will run and what kind of run it will be.
I am going to need to get out and run no matter how lazy I feel on any given day. Preemptive strikes ensure that I will not fall victim to my feelings and take action despite them.
6. Keep taking consistent action no matter how impossible it appears to be to reach your destination
What kind of person would want to run across every country in the world? It’s insane, it’s never been done. And I am I am extremely unqualified to do it: I have a blood condition that two doctors told me would kill me in Marine Corps Boot Camp. I am very flat footed. I have mild scoliosis and I have been told that I have bad knees. Yet… I have already made one crossing 🙂 I have taken that one small step.
Despite how impossible your dream may seem to you, just take one step toward it. Take one step today. See what that does for you. It can’t hurt right?
What is your dream? Even if you haven’t made one step yet. Dream big! What lives within you?
The world needs your greatness.
As Goerge Bernad Shaw once said” “The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
I would love to hear in the comments below your answer to one simple question, what is your unreasonable vision for your future? Our collective progress depends on it.
It depends on you!
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(Disclaimer – the music in the video above is not my own. It is ©Virgin Records and is titled Sadeness by the band Enigma.)