Exploring the impact of extraordinary challenge

Qingdao are ready for off as the Clipper fleet start their final race around Ireland to Liverpool today.  In the long Irish stop over some of the round the world crew have had time to pause, reflect and consider what their futures might hold.  Sometimes these uncertainties are tough to navigate.  It may take courage and time to understand the impact of their extraordinary adventure and how this influences what next.

Exploring the Impact of Extraordinary Challenge is a study that started a year ago.  It is an intentional process designed to understand what changes, in ourselves and others, and what acts as a catalyst for development.  By growing awareness and expanding perspectives we become increasingly able to shape our intentions, decide on and meet our goals, and choose how we want to live our lives.

A few words by way of background:  The Clipper race is billed as the ‘race of your life’.  There is much anecdotal evidence of self-discovery, but what happens and the extent to which perspectives change has not been assessed in a structured way.

At the start of the race all study participants completed a questionnaire and an assessment of their stage of development. For many years we have known that children have distinct developmental stages.  More recently new frameworks have enabled us to understand what it is to develop as a adult. The study is using the STAGES assessment framework to identify participants pre-race core stage of development.  This is the level of our perspective taking, how we make meaning of our life’s experiences, what influences our strategies and actions, and our likely strengths and challenges.

As we grow up our perspectives expand – it is not so much like climbing stairs – more like blowing up a balloon – and as our perspectives expand we can experience disorientation.  Equally discomfort and challenge can act as catalysts forcing us to dig deeper to make sense of what is happening.

So as we have been racing we have kept diaries to track our thinking and emotions, action and team experiences.  After the race there will be second STAGES assessment.  This before and after will be a quantitative assessment of where participants were, and now are from a development perspective – and so identifying what has changed and what might be next.

By exploring the impact of extraordinary challenge in this way my commitment is to increase awareness of what is to develop, what is possible, what are catalysts and what can trip us up.  I hope this will support those that are curious as they face different or similar disorienting challenges, and that new understanding and expanded perspectives enable us all to face any challenges, individually or in teams or groups, with an increased capacity to navigate in ever present uncertainty.

Feedback, questions or comments are welcome – and if you haven’t already supported my fundraising initiative please go to: 


Your support is much appreciated.







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