Welcome to the Join Up Dots Podcast Business Coaching Podcast With Felicity Aston MBE
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Introducing Felicity Aston MBE
Felicity Aston is today’s guest joining us on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast.
I have been looking forward to todays show for awhile now.
I am fascinated by what makes people push out of their comfort zones and literally go to the extreme of that point.
Why do people feel driven to drag themselves across climates that not only are very uncomfortable, but can actually kill you.
And thrive whilst doing it.
And todays guest is Felicity Aston, someone who is driven to do that kind of thing time and time again.
She is a writer, speaker and adventurer and inspiration to everyone that she meets in the world.
Everyone loves to live her life through the stories she tells.
But what is also amazing to me time and time again, is to see how some of the smallest things in life can have the biggest influences on us.
Her first ‘expedition’ involved being bribed up an English Mountain at the age of nine by her parents with a packet of Opal Fruits.
The key words were to that statement was it all started with a bribe of sweets, but the sense of achievement on reaching the top, and standing there in the pouring rain was the first step towards where she is today.
How The Dots Joined Up For Felicity
And where she is today is being recognised as the first woman in the world to ski across Antarctica alone.
Awarded the MBE by British Royalty, and someone who seeks out irresistible challenges and captivating stories.
Seeking them out in the planet’s wildest and most extraordinary places.
And now from her base in Iceland she is scheming for more and more experiences that she can tackle head on, much to the delight of the rest of us.
So how did she go from thinking “That was exciting” to “I can make a living out of this”?
And does she see that deep inside all of us is a desire for adventure and challenge, but for whatever reasons we hold back on it as we can quite believe that she should do it?
Well lets find out, as we bring onto the show to start joining up the dots with Felicity Aston MBE.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Felicity Aston such as:
How she feels that her core essence in life is a simple case of curiosity, and loves nothing more than looking at the fringes of life and wondering what goes on there.
Why she finds the question of “Why” such a frustration when she gets asked it by people.
How she has now taken years to realise that the answer is “I’m curious!”
How she looks back in life and realised that there was no plan B.
She literally lived hand and mouth to make it work. Reckless? Yes, but she did it!
How she knew that she had to develop her hustle muscle to get the life that she wanted, even though she hates doing it more than anything else she does.
How she recalls crossing Antarctica and entering into the record books, and then feeling a mild sense of disappointment when it all finished.
How To Connect With Felicity Aston
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Audio Transcription Of Felicity Aston Interview
David Ralph [0:00]
Today’s show is brought to you by podcasters mastery.com, the premier online community teaching you to podcast like a pro. Check us out now at podcasters mastery.com.
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. join up dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK David Ralph
David Ralph [0:33]
Yes. Hello there. Welcome. Welcome to another episode of join up dots. I’m your host David Ralph and we’ve got a we’ve got a good one today, we’ve got one of those kind of shows that you kind of think, yeah, I’d like to be doing that. But then when you talk to the person, it’s just not in me. So I’m fascinated what makes it in her to do the kind of things but she does because there’s it there’s an uncle comfort but she likes in her life. And I’ve been looking forward to today’s show for a while now just because that’s the reason I’m fascinated by what makes people push out of their comfort zones. And literally go to the extreme of that point. Why do people feel driven to drag themselves across climates and not only are very uncomfortable but can actually kill you and thrive whilst doing it too. And today’s guest is someone who’s driven to do that kind of thing time and time again. She’s a writer, speaker and adventure and inspiration to everyone that she meets in the world who love to live better life through the stories she tells. But what is also amazing to me time and time again is to see how some of the smallest things in life can have the biggest influences on us now how first expedition involve being bribed up an English mountain at the age of nine by her parents with a packet of Opal Fruits. Now if you grew up in the 70s you’ll know what Opal Fruits are but um, if you if you didn’t, you have to Google them, but they’re like little juicy sweet. So it’s not the biggest bribery in the world. But the key words to have statement was it started with a Biber sweets, but the sense of achievement on reaching the top and standing there in the pouring rain was the first step towards where she is today. And where she is today is being recognized as the first woman in the world to ski across Antarctica alone, awarded the MBA by British royalty and someone who seeks out it was this the ball challenges and captivating stories in the planet is wild is the most extraordinary places. And now from her base in Iceland, she’s aiming for more and more experiences that she can tackle head on, much to the delight of the rest of us. So how did you go from thinking that was exciting to I can make a living out of this? And does she see but deep inside of all of us is a desire for adventure in challenge, but for whatever reasons we hold back on it as we can’t quite believe that we should do it. Well, let’s find out as we bring on to the show to start joining up dots with Felicity Aston MBE. How are you, Felicity?
Felicity Aston [2:54]
Yeah, I’m good. Thank you.
David Ralph [2:56]
Does everyone say MBe at the end? Is it one of those things that you kind of think, Oh, don’t mention it, Don’t mention it.
Felicity Aston [3:04]
There is surprising actually how often I receive post where people have written on the envelope lyst he asked an MBA and it’s a real surprise to me that it’s used quite as much as it is, but you know, always brings a smile to my face whenever I see it. So it’s a very nice thing.
David Ralph [3:18]
Well, English kind of like those titles don’t. It’s something that I’ve always gone against in my life. If somebody gave me a title, I’ve always felt slightly embarrassed about it. And but with an MBE, it is it’s testament to what you’ve done. But for the people out there who don’t know, the the royalty in Britain will award certain awards each year and you can get an MBE a member of the British Empire, you can get the Order of the British Empire commander, the British Empire, and then you get into SIRs and all that kind of stuff. So I’m going to touch on this just because I’m talking about it. But do you get any site in what they give you is it is a wall explorers, MBAs of all the players OBS. How does it work?
Felicity Aston [4:03]
And well, I it’s a much as a mystery to me as it is to everyone else, I think. I mean, I was sent a letter back in November, saying that the Queen was approving my nomination for a little bit. And it was very sort of formal language. So I had to read the letter a few times before I could work out really what it was saying whether it was saying that I had been awarded an MBA or that I was being considered for one or But no, you don’t have any say into the the award you’re given or what it’s given for, which is why I was so touched when it’s it’s given to me for services to polar exploration, which, you know, means a great deal to me. And I think, you know, I’ve discussed it with a lot of people since. And I think the reason why it’s a lovely thing, in my opinion is because it’s it means that somebody has noticed what you are doing, and it’s recognition for what you’ve done. There are lots of people that say, I don’t need recognition for what I’m doing. But actually, when it does happen when somebody notices and says well done, you know, that means a lot. And so I found it quite an emotional thing to be awarded an honor like that.
David Ralph [5:15]
I think you’re right. I do think you’re right. I remember when I was up in London, I used to run sales teams, I was a sales manager. And I was very good at hitting the sales targets. And the the sort of the local office, there’s a regional office used to come down and award you things. And I used to feel so embarrassed by him. But I used to hide in the toilet when I returning up. And I used to say to the security guy, if anyone comes that looks like they’re from regional office, tell me I mean, I can disappear for a while. But um, it is recognition, isn’t it. And at a human level, we all want recognition. Because we get up every day, we do our best we put efforts into it. And it’s just nice, isn’t it?
Felicity Aston [5:57]
It is and you know, it’s just as lovely when I’ve given talk, and somebody comes up after the talk and says, You know, I really enjoyed that that was fantastic. Or, you know, I received emails from people that have read about expeditions that I’ve done in the past and said, you know, reading the story of the women in the team that you put together has given me the courage to go and run my first marathon or open my first shop or learn a new language. And I just find that endlessly incredible that, you know, something I’ve done has had an effect on somebody else a positive effect on somebody else. And, you know, I find that a very humbling thing in a bizarre way. I mean, you know, when I read the letter about the MBA, I mean, yes, there was a huge feeling of pride, but it also made me feel very, very humble. It was like, my initial reaction was Oh, no, no, no, you know, I don’t deserve something like this, you know, why? Why have they picked out me and you know, that that that is a is the other the flip side of this automatic response, I think like you were saying about hiding in the toilet, I think when somebody picks you out, your initial, your immediate response is to say that you don’t deserve it. But you know, I think it’s also a good useful tool for motivating you to do other things, you know, if you realize that, you know, you are having an effect on other people you are, you know, providing them maybe with a little seed of motivation that they’ll go on to use with positive things in their own life. And I think it reminds you of the responsibility that you have along with that. So, you know, I see it as a positive thing that I know, there are a lot of people out there that have a lot of problems with it. But I’ve certainly found it a very positive and rewarding thing.
David Ralph [7:34]
I think you should as well. And is that sort of motivating the world? Is that your core essence when you’re standing in these frozen wastelands, D and you’re feeling really cold? And I bet there’s times that you feel really miserable at the time? Do you kind of think, well, at least somebody’s motivated by that is is that your core essence?
Felicity Aston [7:55]
And no, I mean, you know, when I first started doing expeditions, it was it’s a very selfish thing. It’s, you know, I want to go and have this adventure, I want to see what’s out there. I mean, I would say that my core driving force, if I had to sum it up in one word is curiosity. You know, when I look at a map of the world, my eyes are instantly drawn to the fringes, you know, the places I’ve never heard of before, and I want to know, Who’s there? What do they do? What’s it like there? What would it feel like to be there? How could I get there? You know, those sorts of questions, I think, you know, that curiosity is is my core driving force. But I am always very conscious when I go about planning an expedition that I do have a responsibility to make sure that I’m doing it in the right way to make sure I’m doing it in a way that I can be proud of. And being aware of the fact that you know, by going into these areas in a certain way you are having an impact on all those people that might want to come afterwards so it is part of the in a complex makeup that all you’re motivated and your and your reasons for doing things. Yeah.
David Ralph [9:03]
Because we’ve with you and I’m finding this more and more with explorers that the entrepreneurial folk but I talked to they seem to all migrate to hot climates, they go to Florida, they go to San Diego, California and I seem to dry their their world and their their environments to a place where it’s sunny, and it’s nice to walk around in. But the explorers seem to set themselves into a place where is well, cold most of the time and your you actually spend half your time in, in Iceland, or is it more than that now?
Felicity Aston [9:36]
Yeah, I mean, I’m now living Iceland. I’m about to get married to an Icelander, so it is now home. And I think the thing about extreme climates is when people call them extreme climates, what they’re actually saying is, you know, to them, their extreme, an extreme climate is a climate that you’re not used to. It’s an unfamiliar climate, that’s what we refer to as extreme. In this time, last year, I just come back from an expedition in Siberia to a place called the pole of cold, which is a small village called Aamir Khan, where the average wintertime temperature is below minus 60 degrees centigrade. I’m not sure what that is in Fahrenheit, but it’s very cold. Yeah. And you know, at this little village, you know, people live there, they work there, the kids go to school, they start their cars, you know, it is their normality. So, for them, it’s not extreme. And then in the summertime, there are over 40 plus 40 degrees centigrade. So, you know, for, for me living in little moderate, you southeast of the UK, where, you know, temperature ranges from maybe a few degrees below zero centigrade to 20 degrees above centigrade, you know, very mild climate, that doesn’t change a lot. That would seem very extreme. But to the people living in our Yukon, you know, it’s normality. So, I think when we say extreme climate, what we mean is something we’re very unfamiliar with, and, you know, the polar environment is somewhere. I mean, you know, I’m always aware that there are dangers in that climate, but it’s somewhere I’m very familiar with it somewhere that I really feel comfortable and that I love being. So it’s it’s not, it’s maybe not as much of a trial as it would appear. When you when you start doing it again, again,
David Ralph [11:20]
but it is one of those things, but you obviously didn’t start those those kids in Siberia, whatever town you were talking about. They grew up in that environment. So that’s all I ever knew. So I can understand, although I’m sitting here thinking, move, move to somewhere that’s more comfortable, then that’s all they know. But you of course, grew up in Kent, and in in the United Kingdom, and that is anything but what you’re finding in as normal now. So you you have accepted and uncomfortable environments, haven’t you? You haven’t just grown up with them, you’ve actually sort of embraced him somewhat.
Felicity Aston [11:57]
Yeah. And I think maybe I mean, that where I grew up what I think is perhaps fundamental to what I’ve gone on to do. You know, quite often I’m pressed to explain why I do what I do. And why is such an infuriating word. You know, it’s a, it’s a short three letter word that you know, you’re asking a very complex question in one short word. Why? Anything? Oh, my goodness, why? You know, why do I eat chocolate? Why do I prefer salt and vinegar flavor? crossover cheese and onion? You know, trying to pinpoint exactly why you enjoy doing English lady Anya, when you’re talking about
David Ralph [12:31]
Felicity Aston [12:34]
Yeah, absolutely. Um, but you know, it is. So I’ve had to spend a lot of time trying to work out why and if people look to what my parents do, see if I can explain it that way. They look to childhood experiences. And the only thing that you know, I’ve thought is that growing up in southeast of England, you know, a snowy, really cold winter was a majorly exciting event. I mean, it’s snowed in Kent, you know, we had days off school, we went to pledging, you know, the whole world was transformed. And so maybe in my childhood mind, there was a connection made between excitement and adventure, and that sort of snowy winter, classic winter environment. And, you know, once that I was, I spent some time with a Norwegian Explorer, and down and talk to Karen. And he said, you know, what, is it with you English people, you know, you’re all down here in the Arctic and up at the North Pole. He said, No, you don’t even have mountains in your country. Why are you all doing this? And I said, Well, maybe that’s the answer. We don’t have, you know, this sort of classic polar environment anywhere in our country. So maybe that’s why we are fascinated with it. Because it is something you know, so unfamiliar to us.
David Ralph [13:43]
So so you you’ve answered that, that question of why haven’t you when somebody comes up to you and says, Why do you do that? You just have to say, because I’m curious End of story. That’s it, isn’t it?
Felicity Aston [13:53]
Yeah, but I mean, it’s taken a long time to get to that point.
A lot of thinking back and trying to work out why I do what I do. I mean, it’s like saying to somebody, you know, why do you play football rather than tennis? or Why do you? You know, why do you prefer this gym in that gym? It’s quite difficult to work out why. But I think you know, now my answer is curiosity. And also, you know, this, this idea of it being an environment, it’s just captured my imagination, and that I haven’t got sick of yet.
David Ralph [14:23]
It’s funny, because now we sort of we’ve framed your why I think it’s my my wife as well, I think I, the reason I have these conversations every single day, is the fact that I’m curious. I’m curious about what makes people do the things and how they managed to make an income and all those kind of things that you do in uncomfortable positions. I do in a nice kind of warm recording studio. And but it’s still the why curiosity is a key thing about being a human, isn’t it? Which, more often than not, we just, we stopped being curious somehow, because we’re just too busy.
Felicity Aston [14:57]
Yeah, or maybe, you know, people are curious different ways. You know, it’s it, you know, my curious isn’t necessarily somebody else’s. And so I think, you know, people, I often have this conversation with people that feel that they’re not doing anything, or feel that they’re unable to do anything. And, you know, I fundamentally disagree with them, which sounds quite arrogant, but it’s, you know, I think we’re all dealing with so much on a daily basis that actually, we need to just recognize what we’re doing and the amount that we’re achieving more often. And I think, you know, when you start realizing how capable you are, that’s when you’re given the ability then to think, Okay, well, if I am so capable, I can do all this, then maybe I can also do that, and I can do this. And, you know, it’s about giving yourself the confidence. I don’t think anybody ever got anywhere by telling themselves that they’re not capable of doing anything, and that they’re not curious, you know, that that’s not the way forward. I think it’s about recognizing what you are doing and what you have achieved and therefore using that as a springboard to to push cell phone words. I think we’re very bad at celebrating sort of the small successes, but they’re still important even though they’re small.
David Ralph [16:07]
Did you think is ironic, though, that the the fame of the whole show is joining up dots, but you you would not started really with a packet of Opal Fruits, and I can’t I kinda like the fact that they were, they were laid on the grass every sort of like hundred yards. And so you just sort of load up to the top of this mountain. Where you are now and you’re so ultimately, as we say, curious, and you’re doing things that people are fascinated on, because they seem in the extreme. It all started with the fact that you will learn to the top of the mountain, and it is not one of these mountains in the UK, but I was aware of or when I actually sort of investigated it. I thought, Well, okay, yeah, we know sort of scaffold Python places. But this is one but is it still a bit of a drag out there? And I can imagine my kids, if I said to them, come on, let’s get to the top of the mountain. They would like to be at the top, but it was the getting better, but they would struggle with we use the same you somebody, Oh, Mom, I’m so tired. Can we just sit down and all that kind of stuff?
Felicity Aston [17:05]
Yeah, I mean, you know, I was eight years old at the time, and it was a horrible in a wet rainy day. And it was my dad’s idea that we were going to climb to the top of Helvellyn. And he was telling us about this wonderful view that you got from the top. And as we sort of, very soon after we started up this mountain path, you know, the clouds came in, so you couldn’t see anything, and we’re all wet and it was windy, and it was cold. And, you know, and so the the bribery came in when they said oh, you know, the path is marked by these big piles of stones called cans. And, you know, he said, if you get to the next Ken you know, we can have another April fruit. So it’d be like, you wake up as a kid, don’t you like, okay, you know, the next kid and get another April fruit and then we’d set off again and then he’d be like, Oh, you know, if we get to the next kid, we can have another April fruit. And that that carried on all the way to the top. I mean, it’s amazing with children how you can play the same trick so many times.
David Ralph [18:00]
No point to a party. Well, you could learn me at the top of the mountain with Opal Fruits.
Felicity Aston [18:05]
Yeah, I mean, I’m sure I could be loaded on by all sorts of treats now. But
David Ralph [18:11]
if I if I if I load them, I could take you anywhere. Felicity.
Felicity Aston [18:15]
Yeah, or peanut butter actually is these days? Don’t care
as long as it’s peanut butter, especially if it comes with chocolate. Oh, my goodness. That’s disgusting. What kind of mad women
David Ralph [18:27]
are you? Peanut butter and chocolate.
Felicity Aston [18:31]
I can eat it like ice cream, believe me, like with a spoon out of the pot, just like ice cream. Absolutely amazing. But But yeah, so the health Ellen experience, I think it was, you know, one of those experiences that at the time, I don’t think I realized obviously, I didn’t realize I was eight years old. It was only when I was looking back. And when I was being asked these questions about why and you know, how did you get here it was, it’s looking back that you see these experiences that turned out to be formative. Even though you didn’t realize that time.
David Ralph [19:00]
I’ve never been up an English mountain and seeing anything at the top. And so I think if if your dad was my dad, and he said that to me, I’d go now. Come on, you’ve done this before. I’ve been I’ve gone up. I think literally every mountain on earth that I’ve gone up once I’ve got to the top, I haven’t seen a thing. So it’s fascinating. But you did get to the point. And you didn’t just look around and go. I feel cheated, but there was some kind of essence in you that for achieve something.
Felicity Aston [19:30]
Yeah, I mean, it’s a, it’s a feeling I’m quite familiar with now. And you know, that kind of worst of times are also the best of times, you know, it’s like if you go for a run, and it’s wet, and it’s windy, but you know, you go for that ride, or you go for that walk and you come back inside. And you know, you feel like yeah, you know, you feel like, that’s really great. You know, it was wet, and it was windy. And I really enjoyed that, although you didn’t at the time, it was miserable. And it’s kind of bizarre feeling. I mean, again, it’s the it’s the contrariness of being human is that something that is actually a very measurable experience can be something that you look back on with a, you know, with a feeling of pride and elation and triumphant achievement. And, you know, that, that feeling bizarre is it is is what is addictive. And it it’s addictive in sports and going to the gym, you know, while you’re at the gym, who can honestly say that, while they’re sweating it out in a treadmill or trying to push weights that they are happy and enjoying themselves, no one is enjoying that. But there is something sort of that makes you feel elated. It’s sort of like a euphoria. Once you finish, I mean, I’m sure now doctors and scientists can explain it with hormones and different things that are floating around your body. But you know, you get that feeling of elation. And that’s addictive, and you want to go back and you want to do it better, and you want to carry on doing it. And that’s exactly the same focus with with sports with no setting targets that work with any kind of achievement. It’s that kind of sense of competition with yourself that that is addictive and keeps came back.
David Ralph [21:00]
So the key essence to this show, and it wasn’t part of the show when we started, but it was based on the fact that all your good thoughts, your bad thoughts? When you look back on the times, as you were saying, and you got all that was dreadful. When you look back on it, you got a thank God for that. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be where I am now. So can you see a lot of your life falling into that, but at a time, it was just miserable, horrendous times. But you look back on and go, I’m glad I’ve gone through that I’ve grown because of it.
Felicity Aston [21:30]
Yeah, I mean, you know, particularly with expeditions, you know, it’s quite straightforward to see that line, you know, you put together an expedition, you make a lot of mistakes. And you realize, okay, I’m never going to do that, again, my first independent expedition was across Greenland, we were the first British or women’s team to, to cross Greenland. And we be so I mean, our boots were freezing to our feet, because we chose the wrong kind of boots, the wrong footwear, and we’ve done it wrong. And that was agony for the six weeks, we were out there. And so it was a hard lesson nerd, you know, I never made the mistake with taking the wrong footwear or the wrong kind of boots again. And so in an expedition knife, you know, it’s quite easy to see how those terrible experiences then give you the the better knowledge to take forward. And so yeah, it’s quite easy for me to see how those negative thoughts are as valuable as the as the positive ones.
David Ralph [22:24]
And do you think that is what the people in the the cubicles and on the trains and the buses that listen to these shows day in day out? By living within that that comfort zone of what they can do? Is that a key message that we got to get out there, you really don’t know what you can do until you start doing it? And sometimes the worst times are the best times and the best times the worst times and all that, but it’s the doing stuff, which is the key thing.
Felicity Aston [22:50]
Yeah, I think. But the problem is, is that while you’re going through that bad stuff, it sounds like hollow reassurance to be told that, hey, you know, this this bad time is actually you’re going to thank you be thankful for this bad time further down the line. And, you know, I’ve never found that useful. While I’m going through the bad times, it’s always seemed like the desperate end of the world. And, you know, you can’t see your way forward, you can’t see your way out of it. And so reassuring myself that, you know, you you will find a way through this. That’s it, that’s been something that I’ve had to, you know, train myself to do. And it, it doesn’t come easily. And I think perhaps the most reassuring bit of advice or support that I was ever given was, you know, hearing the other people also went through these times where they just were in despair. You know, I think quite often when you read stories of people that have achieved great things, it all seems a very positive story, they talk about the setbacks, but then they came through and, you know, this sort of thing. And, you know, I find most reassuring the stories where people have burst into tears where people have lost it. And it makes me think, Oh, good, you know, this person also felt pieces of it. But look at them now. You know, that’s great. So now that I’m falling to pieces a bit, I can not feel so bad about that. So, you know, I think perhaps that’s the best reassurance I was ever given. And so hopefully, for other people out there, that might be reassuring to that. You don’t have to suffer all this stoically, you know, just because you’ve had a day where you feel like, you know, you’re going a little bit insane, you’re falling apart at the seams, that’s okay. It happens to everybody. And, you know, having a good cry sometimes is brilliant. That’s the good way to get through it. So I think just reassuring people that it’s totally human to fall apart and to feel absolutely useless, you know, that that is okay. Everybody does it. Whether they talk about it afterwards or not, is another matter.
David Ralph [24:45]
So So how do you go in to create an income from this? How do you because that’s, that’s a big step, isn’t it? It’s almost quite easy to say, Yeah, I could fly to Green Bay and get some comfortable shoes and go for a trip. But actually to take that from that point to where you are actually living it. That is your income. How do you do that? Did you remember being held back by thoughts of? Well, I was talking to a lady the other day, you might you might know, actually, Sue Stockdale. And she was the first lady to get to the magnetic north pole, first English lady to get to magnetic north pole. And she said, when she started, she always bought explorers were men. And you had to have a lot of money. And so she knew that she was already holding herself back by those boards before she even started. So she had to break down a lot of sort of barriers in our mind to move on. Not least, How the hell do I earn an income from doing what I love most? How did you do it?
Felicity Aston [25:45]
And probably the short answer is very recklessly. You know, I guess Looking back, I was a bit naive, you know, I was in my mid 20s. And I really looking back now, I’m not sure how I did it. I’m not sure financially, how how I managed to, to keep it all together. But I did find a way. And, you know, you said it yourself that you never know what the way is, until leave until you’ve started. And I think it always helps if you have that kind of edge of desperation. You need to make this work. It has to work, there’s no, there’s no plan B. So, yeah, I did sort of go out there. And, you know, I was living pretty much hand to mouth, you know, I was doing little jobs where I could, you know, any kind of opportunity that came my way. And I think, you know, the key when I look back the key skill, if I could point to any particular skill that I think I’m really good at, and, and perhaps has been, you know, the underlying to the way, how I made it work was that, you know, I’m always looking for opportunity. And if an opportunity comes, I grab it. And you know, it’s amazing. How many people don’t necessarily do that, you know, an opportunity will come and they’ll wear it up nothing Oh, well, maybe it’s not the right opportunity, or it’s not the right, you know, I’ll give lots of reasons as to why they’ll wait for the next one. You know, I’ve never felt like that, I’ve always been slightly worried that there never will be a next one. And so this opportunity is the one I have to grasp, I have to, you know, that’s that you can point to lots of reasons why that’s not a very positive way to go about things, you know, I could grab that opportunity, but then another one comes along, that’s better. But you know, for me, that’s, that’s been the way I’ve, they’ve gone about it. And for me, it’s worked. And to a certain extent, it’s delicious. But you know, it took me a long time before I could relax into that. And yeah, all through my 20s I was absolutely petrified about where the next check was coming from, I never knew how I was going to afford all my bills, how I was going to make it all stick together. And it was only once I got into my early 30s that I was able to calm down a bit and say, Okay, I don’t know where the check is coming from. But I know it will come You know, I’m confident that the work will come men. And you know, if you’re self employed, I think you know you that might feel very familiar, that kind of sense of having to come in calm down into the confidence of knowing that the work will turn up, you know, you’re out there hustling for it the whole time. And to start off with you never know where it’s going to come from. And there’s this ultimate fear that you know, the work isn’t going to come in that it’s not it’s not going to materialize. But then after a while, you know, after sort of three, four years of that work always materializing you, then you start to gaining confidence that okay, I don’t know where it’s coming from, but it will come. And and you know, now I’m quite sort of confident in that that the work will turn up
David Ralph [28:39]
your hustle muscle gets bigger, doesn’t it, the more you flex the old hustle muscle, it becomes exactly the same like a bicep, I’m a total believer in that you start off thinking, I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m really I’m making it up as I go along. Oh my god, what have I done and all those kind of things and you start hustling and hustling. And after a while you realize that actually you’re not hustling, you’re living a life, this is what you do. And it just kind of becomes easier somehow. It’s did you do? What you actually always a natural born hustler? Or did you have to do it? as a city?
Felicity Aston [29:12]
Yeah, no, I mean, I hate it is absolutely anything, but to me, it goes against the grain of every single element of my upbringing, you know, to have to walk into an office, you know, for example, meeting a sponsor, and having to sell myself I just, I hate it, I hate it with an absolute passion. But it needs to be done. And you have to override that. You know, I met with a woman recently and extremely accomplished sports woman, she’s out there doing amazing stuff flying the flag for Britain, really pioneering new ground. And yet she she’s finding it really difficult to find the funding, and yet when I spoke to it, you know, she came asking for advice. But as I spoke to her, she, you know, she’s saying, Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly do that, you know, I absolutely can’t sit, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, I don’t want to do it, I find it slightly cookie, it goes against my principles. And, you know, I found myself feeling a little bit, you know, disappointed in a way because it, I’m not talking about sort of being non, you know, forgetting your morals or doing anything, it’s, but you know, you have to go out there and sell yourself, nobody is going to do that for you. And, you know, it is difficult, and I certainly hate it. And it doesn’t get any easier. You know, last year, I had a bit of a crisis it personally because I think I fell into the trap of assuming I could sit on my laurels a little bit. You know, I got a few good expeditions under my belt, you know, I’ve had some sort of really great sponsor experiences, and I just let my foot come off the, you know, come off the pedal a little bit. And I took some things for granted. And it slapped me in the face. And it was a good wake up call it was I you know, listen to you, you cannot take your eye off the ball, you have keep you know, 100% going for it. Otherwise it because it doesn’t get any easier. And then, you know, and I feel a little bit hurt sometimes when people get in contact with me with the assumption that because, you know, I’ve got a few good expeditions under my belt that somehow everything has come easy to me. And it’s like no, excuse me. Yeah, you know, working really hard. But every single, you know, thing that’s happened. And, you know, I absolutely can’t afford to, to rest on my laurels at all. And so it was a good lesson not to take anything for granted.
David Ralph [31:34]
Well, let’s play some words now. But take us to the second stage of the conversation. And these are words that I throw into the mix every single show really and besides Jim Carrey,
Jim Carrey [31:42]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many, many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [32:10]
Now, obviously, passionate, powerful words, but the thing that sort of intrigued me as I was listening to bad is, not only are you taking a risk financially, but you’re taking a risk with the environments that you put yourself into. And you were quite open beforehand to say, but you didn’t have a plan B, you had to make it work. Why did you take that risk, like Jim Carrey was saying, but you, you had to go for it.
Felicity Aston [32:36]
It’s funny, because I actually disagree with what with what he’s just said, you know, you can fail at what you love. I truly believe that, you know, if you’re doing what you love, then you can’t fail, you know, because you are naturally going to be excellent at what you love doing by the very fact that you love it.
David Ralph [32:53]
Saying that you can find out what you love. He was saying that you can find out what you don’t love. So you might as well take a chance at doing what you do.
Felicity Aston [33:00]
Yeah, absolutely. But you know, I feel that, you know, you can’t fail of what you love doing. You know that that doesn’t make any sense. If you love what if you’re doing what you love, then you’ve already succeeded. You know, that’s that’s the whole point. You know, so in terms of, you know, going out there and doing it and making it work, you know, making the expedition happen, you know, I’d already succeeded because I was out there doing what I wanted to do. And you know whether that expedition had achieved its goals or not achieved its goals. And to a large part was kind of arbitrary. I mean, I then got on to make a living out of doing that, which I think is the the ultimate bonus. But you know, I think perhaps if you just do what you love doing, then you’re always going to be successful at it.
David Ralph [33:49]
But no plan B though, Felicity, why would you so certain that this was it, because you could have quite easily gone. I don’t know when the next bill was coming through our guest job with NatWest bank, and I’ll be all right, I’ll be covered. But you said no, no, I’m gonna go for it.
Felicity Aston [34:06]
Yeah, well, I mean, I guess if there’s the very answer is that those jobs are always out there, I guess maybe, deep down, I always felt confident that if this didn’t work out, I’d find something. Get out there and do something. But you know, I wanted to, I wanted to try this. And I think my ultimate fear in life is regret. You know, I don’t want to reach the end of my days, and be feeling regret, you know, I want to be reaching the end of my days and thinking, you know, I’ve had a great time. And you know, that, that whenever I’m sort of trying to wake up in my mind, whether I should take this risk or take that risk, or, you know, it’s what am I going to regret? Not doing? You know, that that’s the kind of bottom line for me? And if I’d never tried, you know, if you try and you fail, then you know, okay, I tried that, and it failed. So now I’m doing this. But if you never try, then you’ll never know. And I’ve just think that must be the ultimate purgatory, doesn’t it? You know, just having that, that knowledge, you know that that voice that says, all you could have, you know, done this, you could have done that I don’t want to have that in my head. So,
David Ralph [35:19]
we have been laying on your deathbed, knowing that you’ve lived your life, but you were true to yourself, because I’ve been fascinated by a book, which I heard about recently, the top five regrets of the dying. And this nurse was in palliative care. And she went around talking to these people, basically, we’re just about to die. And asking them, you know, what, what’s your biggest regrets? And it’s a bit of a bizarre book to write. And I don’t know if I even want to read it, because I don’t like the sort of answers that it’s going to give. But the number one was, I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life, others expected of me. And that’s the number one regret of the day. So when you’re laying on bed, obviously, hopefully a long time from now, but you sort of lay down go, yeah, yeah, it was on my terms. Nobody can say anything other than that.
Felicity Aston [36:09]
Well, I had a very interesting conversation with my other half recently. And it’s a bit of a morbid conversation to have, but it was a conversation that I felt was important to me. And I say, you know, if something absolutely terrible happened to me tomorrow, I wanted my, you know, my loved one to know, that, you know, in that moment at which I knew, okay, this is it. I would be thinking that’s okay. Because I’ve had an amazing time. And, you know, I’ve done some amazing things. And that, that, that’s fine. That’s okay. You know, I wouldn’t want the people I leave behind to be thinking, Oh, that’s tragic. You know, she was cut down before she had a chance to do this, or do that, or one thing and the other. You know, I don’t think I would feel like that. I mean, obviously, none of us know exactly how we would feel. But, you know, I felt it important to have that conversation, because we never know, you know, when our time is up. And so I wanted him to know that so that if something terrible did happen to me, hopefully, that would be some kind of comfort to know that actually, I wouldn’t be really annoyed. Because I have had the most fantastic time, I’ve had some really amazing opportunities. And I’ve been very privileged. And so, you know, my time was up sooner than sooner than I hope. You know, that would be okay. And, and so I feel very, what’s the word? I feel very comforted by the thought that, you know, already in my life, I’ve done a lot. And I feel very content with that. And I think, know, perhaps contentment is what we’re all after, isn’t it? Ultimately, we all want to be content with what we’ve done and the lives we have. And so it was an important conversation for me to have with, with my other half. I’m not
David Ralph [37:53]
actually sure whether we want to be content, I think we want our core Well, I know we’re saying that we want to be comfortable, we want to you know, have a holiday cheer. But I think deep down, we want to feel alive, don’t we, I think every single person wants to have these experiences. And that’s why we look at people like yourself, and you kind of go on one hand. That’s brilliant. I’d love to be doing that. And then on the other hand, I think that that’s not really May I go somewhere warm instead. But you want to feel like you’re you’re you’re feeling nature and the winds in your hair and you’re you’re alive, which you don’t get by doing the best I don’t want to do.
Felicity Aston [38:31]
Yeah, but that is contentment, you’re you’re assuming that contentment would be sitting at home in your slippers. You know, for me, my daily life is not sitting at home in my slippers. It’s being outside here in Iceland on the glaciers, getting blown off my feet, just walking down the high street and nature is very close to you all the time. So contentment for me is spending a lot of time on expedition is being up. But you know, I’ve reached I’ve created a life for myself where that is my daily normality. And that’s why I’m saying I’m content, I’m content with what I have. So whether you’re content with a life of adventure, or content with a life of, you know, comfort at home, I mean, I’m not saying it one is better than the other, I think they both have their value. It’s whatever you know, you want to do, reaching a point of contentment with the life that you have around you. That’s what I’ve certainly aimed for. So I’m not saying Oh, be content with settling for second best? No, I’m saying you know, you reach contentment when you’ve gone for the life that you want. And you’ve created that for yourself. And whatever that might be, you know, contentment for you might be, I don’t know, getting wasted every day and waking up on a park bench? I don’t know. Did you ever
David Ralph [39:45]
walk up the road in your slippers and been and see what you like most because that could blow your mind? Can it Felicity
Felicity Aston [39:54]
I’m walking down the road in my slippers. I today. You know, they were there were lots of forms of contentment. I think you know, when I say that, ultimately I you know, I’m searching for contentment, I’m searching for a life that suits me. And you know, being content within that life. So for me, it’s been a little bit more complicated, you know, I wasn’t content living in England, for example, it just didn’t suit me, I felt a little bit sort of constrained by life in England. So I found somewhere to live where I was a lot closer to wildness, I was a lot closer to nature. So it can be there’s all different ways of searching for it. And I’m certainly not advocating. We all have our own forms of content, whether we’re searching for.
David Ralph [40:42]
I don’t know whether I agree with what you’re saying. But I don’t know, in my core, my heart of hearts content just sounds a sappy word. It doesn’t sound an exciting word, it doesn’t sound something that would actually get me out of bed. Come on, get out tomorrow morning, because you can be content. I think when I could just stay in bed and be content. What’s the point in getting up? I feel it’s got to be something bigger, isn’t there?
Felicity Aston [41:06]
Right? You can exchange the word you could call it happiness, or you know, we all searching for happiness. Are we all searching for? I don’t know. I mean it you know, there’s there’s all sorts of words that that you could call it. But you know, the?
Yeah, I’m not sure I can answer that.
David Ralph [41:24]
Not nor can I, I just like asking these questions and seeing if people struggle at the other end. So so when you are on your your trip across Antarctica, and you are going to be the first lady to ski across Where? Were you aware that you were going to be the first one? Or was it once you got there? Somebody said? Did you realize you’re the first lady here? Was it a surprise to you? Or was it something that you planned because you could be the first person.
Felicity Aston [41:48]
And it wasn’t something I planned because I could be the first person it was a trip that I wanted to do and, you know, for its own merits. But yes, I was aware before I went that I would be the first women across Antarctica alone. And you know, when you’re putting together a polar expedition, Antarctica is an expensive place to get to, and rightly so. And so you need a lot of funding. And so I don’t think you can be aware of what you’re doing before you go, you know, it’s in order to get that funding, you know, you really have to use everything that you have at your disposal. So, you know, I was aware of the first. And it was, you know, a big contribution towards getting getting sponsorship. But that, for me wasn’t the reason for doing the journey.
David Ralph [42:40]
But But what excites you most because it’s not a Trivial Pursuit question. And I’ve had quite a few people on who have been the first of doing stuff. And to me, that blows my mind. But you become a triple pursue question. You become one of those people, but no one can ever take that away from you. You’re the only person who has ever been on this earth. Who can claim to that? Is that more exciting than say that the MBE which is recognition? Or which which sort of wakes you up in the middle of the morning? And you go Oh, yeah, that’s good. I’m the first woman.
Felicity Aston [43:14]
I don’t think I’ve ever thought that. I mean, it’s really weird. Because it’s, you know, it’s your reality, you know, to other people, it might sound you know, it’s that, but it’s my reality. It’s just you at first,
David Ralph [43:27]
you got it, but surely, you know,
Felicity Aston [43:31]
it just and it took me a long time. Actually, before I could even feel pride in that expedition. It was about a year after I finished before I first remember sort of looking back and thinking, oh, wow, you know, I did that that’s, you know, and feeling a sort of quiet pride. But there was certainly when I finished, you know, the moment when I knew I was standing on ice water rather than ice overland and therefore, I’d crossed the entire landmass of Antarctica. You know, there was no Whoo, yeah, you know, there was nothing like that. It was just like, Oh, yeah, at least over helming anticlimax, if anything, it would you mind brain all day, every day for the previous year, I’d been thinking forward, you know, thinking, thinking about the journey thinking and particularly over the last two months. Before that point, it’s been about counting the miles counting the days, you know, always focused forwards. And then suddenly, it was a bit of a shock that I come to the end, you know, and, and even when I knew I’d finished, I kept skiing for maybe another half an hour or so. Because it just felt so odd to stop it was, you know, and, and so stopping was really quite difficult. And you know, and then there was no one there to celebrate with me, it was just me and Antartica, exactly as it had been for the previous two months. So, you know, there was no champagne corks or finish line to, to run through, it was just sort of sitting on my sledge and trying to let it sink in that, you know, across the country continent. I mean, it’s still just sounds really crazy to me, in some respects that I’ve left a solid line of ski tracks, right the way across Antarctica, when I look at a map now of Antarctica, you know, to think that my ski tracks make a wonky line, right, the way across that it’s no, it’s a it’s an old thought, is
David Ralph [45:20]
a harder route, do you? Can you choose easier routes and harder routes? You know, like, if you go up here? Yes, they say one side is almost impossible, but the other side isn’t too bad. And that kind of stuff.
Felicity Aston [45:32]
Yeah, I mean, there are two other people in the world that have crossed Antarctica alone. Both them are Norwegian, and a man called Borg Iceland, and another man called Marina guilders. And, you know, they are legends in in polar travel. And they both had much longer routes across Antarctica when they crossed, and both of them took very different routes. So yeah, I mean, my route is the the shortest one of the three and different again to the root taken by both the previous Norwegians. So you know, that you can make that journey easier or more difficult depending on you know, your criteria and and what you want to do.
David Ralph [46:17]
So what was it about that environment that made you want to cross it What, why there and not say the Sahara or or some other place?
Felicity Aston [46:27]
I think Antarctica, you know, I’ve spent a lot of the last 15 years of my life, very connected up with Antarctica, one way or another, my first proper job after university was at the British Antarctic Survey. So I spent two and a half years on an Antarctic Research Station, I didn’t leave Antarctica in that time. So I turned up in December 2000, and didn’t leave again until April 2003. And so that you spend sort of a summer, winter, summer winter in a summer in Antarctica continuously without a break. So you see, you don’t just visit Antarctica, you know, it’s your place of work. It’s also many respects your home, you, you’re there, when you want to be there, you’re also there, when you don’t want to be there, you’re there when you’re homesick, you’re there when you’re loving the adventure. You’re there in the summer, when it’s 24 hours a day, like the winter, when it’s 24 hour darkness, you’re there when it’s been storms that you can’t see from one building to the next for the previous week. And you’re there on the most spectacular moonlit days when you can see better than you can in daylight, and it just feels like you’re in a magic dream world of your own imagination. So, you know, that was an amazing experience to have that in a very privileged one. And then since then, you know, I’ve been going back again and again and again. And when I haven’t been going back, I’ve been planning ways to get back. So for me that journey, you’re traveling from one coast, the other to see an entire cross section of this continent that has just, you know, absorbed me for all that time. You know, to me, it felt like, I don’t much to sound pretentious here. But, you know, for me, it felt like a sort of homage as well, as a as it certainly wasn’t conquering. Or it wasn’t like a competition with Antarctica, it was that, you know, I wanted to see an entire cross section of this wonderful place. And I love the simplicity and the completeness of that journey. You know, it was just me traveling on skis, from one side to the other, and spending time out in that environment for that entire duration. So it was very special for me to have the ability and the opportunity to do that.
David Ralph [48:39]
It’s strange, you’ve actually changed my mind as we’ve been having this conversation station when when we were talking about your why. And what I said answer. I’m curious. Now I think you should answer. I’m a romantic I think it’s that that simple kind of I don’t know if those experiences but are linked to Rome Manson imagery and passion and all those kinds of stuff. I think that’s what you should answer. I’m a curious romantic. There you go.
Felicity Aston [49:09]
Yeah, that’s it. That’s a good label. That’s a label I could live with a curious romantic.
David Ralph [49:14]
Did you do have moments when you’re crossing bear, but you if somebody could pop a helicopter down and just whisk you away? Would you jump on? Or is there always something that hold you back to that kind of no plan B sort of methodology that you had?
Felicity Aston [49:32]
Yeah, I mean, you know, I was a certain level of scared the whole time, I was alone in Antarctica, it started within the first few seconds of the plane leaving me and I was just knew I had physical fear, you know, I was trembling because I was so scared, and I wasn’t scared of, you know, injury or fatality, I was scared of the isolation, I was scared of being that alone. And, you know, it was really it was the greatest challenge of the trip was somehow finding, finding a way to manage that fear as in as far as I could. So, you know, finding a way to get through a day when you’re living with that sort of level of fear. So, you know, it makes me laugh when people say about, oh, you must be really courageous and really brave, let us know, about, you know, I was in tears a lot. Because just, it was a way of just releasing this huge amount of fear that I felt inside me. And, and yeah, they were I don’t think if a helicopter landed and said, you know, Felicity, we’re off. We’re to take you now. I’m not sure I would have got on board. But I’m absolutely positive, I would have wanted to every fiber of my body would have been screaming, get on the plane, get on the plane. But you know, I don’t think I actually would because I’m completely stubborn. And you know, I do have this very useful, stubborn streak that, that won’t let me give in. But
David Ralph [50:58]
we’d been that your part was this kind of disappointment? I would have thought that was huge relief. Oh, thank God, I finished it I can get on. But you just sort of sat there on your skis being disappointed. It’s, that’s strange, isn’t it?
Felicity Aston [51:13]
Yeah. I mean, you know, I, as I’m sat there on my skis, I took out my camera, and there was a video, you know, it could record a little bits of video. And so I just talked into the camera. And I, you know, that video I put up on the internet when I got back. So it was the only bit of, of a video I took from the whole trip. And you people watch that video now. And they talked to me about it a lot. You know, it’s the one thing that, you know, people come back to me about again, again, and again, because I think it makes it a lot of sense, when you see, you know, the emotion as it’s coming out of me, you can see that, you know, I’m just so mentally and physically exhausted, that there just is nothing left in me to be able to, you know, process those things, motions, and I feel huge amounts of relief. And I just view build huge amounts of disbelief, you know, disbelief that I’ve finished. And, you know, so there is no room there, there’s no mental capacity left to start feeling achievement, or pride or celebration. It’s just total and utter exhaustion. And that’s, you know, emotional exhaustion as well, you know, I’ve been scared, you know, for two months to this heightened state of alertness. And now I’m done, I’m finished, and the plane comes to me, I don’t have to play Russian Roulette with professors anymore, I can just stay where I am. And wait for someone to get me and, you know, you can see all that playing out within me. And, and so I think, you know, the way you respond to things is never the way you think you’re going to respond to things. You know, for a large extent, I thought I was going to Antarctica to find my personal limit, I was finding a definitive answer on where my limit was. And yet, when I got to the far side of Antarctica, there was a small voice in my head that said, you know, you can ski today. And then of course, the question comes, well, you know, how far could go ski? Could I’ve skied for another day, another week, another thousand kilometers could I’ve turned round and, you know, re crossed Antarctica. And that’s, of course, the sort of questions that drive you back to do bigger and more challenging expeditions each time. But, you know, for me, there was a slight edge of disappointment because having that curiosity is a burden. You know, if you’re spending your life constantly trying to think of ways where you can push yourself even further, further, further, you know, where is the end? Where is that point of contentment, or happiness or whatever that you’re that you’re seeking, ultimately. So I guess that’s where the edge of disappointment came in. But it was only in the sort of months after I returned from Antarctica as I started to recover physically and mentally from that, from that experience, that I had the energy to sort through that feeling. And I realized that I did reach limits on that expedition, you know, just that those limits didn’t look the way I thought they were going to, I didn’t fall to my knees in the snow. And I’m not able to say, Okay, my limit so many miles and so many days. And that’s not the way it looks. It’s a mental limit, I found. And the reason I know I found that limit is because I will never go and do an expedition of that length on my own again. And if ever I started to think about it, then I remind myself of those dark, desperate places I had to go during that expedition. And so ultimately, I believe now that the limit is choice, you know, we can push ourselves mentally and physically to infinity. But we choose to do so you know, if you’re in a survival situation, you know, you just go for it because you want to survive, but I was not in a survival situation, I was there through choice. And, and so ultimately, my limit I discovered is, is the choice of what I decided to do. And that was a bit of a revelation to me, I think it’s the same for everyone,
David Ralph [54:49]
I think once you get to those limits, but only the limits of that time, Mumbai, and when you assess, you’ve been Ok, back took me to the point where I couldn’t go any further. But I think, go again, and I had a gentleman called Koi saver, and he was on episode 245 of the show. And he was just the kind of runner, you could run a couple of miles, you know, which is a lot more than I could run. But he was nothing amazing. And when he bought himself, what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna do something amazing, what’s the biggest thing I can do? So he decided that he would run across America. And he thought, well, that’s kind of good, but I need to do something bigger. So he decides at the end of each marathon each day, he would then stand up and do a presentation, a keynote presentation. So he basically run into a town, run up on stage and do his presentation. And if you’re a speaker, and I’m a speaker by trade, the last thing I can imagine is doing a marathon before getting up there. So this is pretty big. But once he finished it, he kind of assessed and ball. Was it the achievement? Or was it the challenge? Do I need to keep on pushing myself further and further, when is enough is enough? So now what he wants to do is sprint across America, and he’s got to do something like three minutes a day, I think, for 100 days do a 3000 miles old in that time? Do you see that with yourself? Do you see that? There’s never going to be enough, you’re always going to be looking for something because once you’ve had that, that burst of adrenaline or whatever it is, life becomes a bit boring afterwards, doesn’t it?
Felicity Aston [56:18]
Well, you know, I’ve got a lot of friends in the expedition community who, you know, that is their life is always bettering themselves, you know, in terms of, okay, I’ve just finished this expedition, I now need to go and do something bigger, harder, more challenging. And what I recognized is that I feel it’s really important to recognize what you’re sacrificing in order to do that, you know, in order to do these challenges, you’re sacrificing, you know, home lifetime at home, you’re sacrificing time with family and friends, your you know, your soccer and then mentally you’re sacrificing quite a lot, you know, that it was, you know, sometimes these heart really hard insurances, but is that quite traumatic in any of your senses. And, you know, I certainly, you know, had periods of what felt like madness to me, I mean, I escaped it as close to insanity as I ever want to go. And this is what I’m talking about in terms of, you know, your choice, you know, do I push it harder and risk, losing something in the process, and not being able to find a way back. And, you know, so I’ve worked very hard to try and make sure that the two parts of my life, the adventure and time at home, balance each other and work in harmony, rather than conflict with each other. And I think having that conflict between home life and expedition life is very easy. But you know, I want to have a family, I want to have a fulfilling life at home, as well as a fulfilling life out in, you know, adventurous places and doing adventurous things. And, and you know, that that becomes the challenge of my sort of normal day to day life is how to make those two things work together, rather than pull each other apart. And so, yes, I absolutely, you know, recognize what he saying about, you know, finding a bigger challenge, but, you know, there are lots of different ways to challenge yourself. So, for example, I did an expedition A few years ago, where I was taking novices from tropical countries that had never seen snow before. And, and my put on a pair of skis and, you know, training them up to work together as a team, and then we skied together to the South Pole. And that was hugely challenging in terms of people management and leadership, and, you know, pulling that whole thing together, and it was emotionally challenging, rather than in terms of miles and day. So, you know, there’s physical challenges, mental challenge, there’s, you know, challenges of accessing places or, you know, sharing stories, tellers are communicating all sorts of different challenges and different ways that can make that you can stretch yourself, and, you know, but I think it’s really important that, you know, it’s fine if you’re, if you’re going to spend your life always searching for your ultimate limit. But you have to do So recognizing what you are, you know, what you’re giving up in the process. And, you know, it’s really tragic when you see people that have come to the realization that, you know, they’ve given up so much and never really made that conscious decision, you know, it’s just kind of happened to them. And that’s something I want to avoid in my own life personally.
David Ralph [59:20]
But let’s play the the theme of the show. And these are the words Steve Jobs said back in 10 years, I mean, I’m going to ask you the question that I asked literally, every single guest afterwards, what is your big.in life, this is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [59:31]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards, 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [1:00:07]
So what was your big doc Felicity?
Felicity Aston [1:00:10]
um, I think, you know, my big daughter was my first contact with Antarctica, I just, you know, it’s very rare that you realize that you’re finding adult as you’re finding it. But you know, I just knew I remember, there was a an occasion, shortly after I arrived, where I set off a loan to check, I was there as a meteorologist. And so I set up a loan to check one of the meteorological instruments that we had a short distance from the station. And I drove out of the base on a snowmobile and I went up onto this sort of high plateau. And I looked out at this wonderful landscape, and I just wanted to gather it all. And I just had this moment of absolute, you know, euphoria, and it was okay, this is where I need to be. And, you know, this is my, my perfect match, I’d found it. And it was such a relief, you know, to feel like, okay, I’ve found what means something to me in life. And I found something that, you know, I don’t know how and I don’t know, you know, I don’t know, in what format, or you know, what form it’s going to take, but you know, I know that this place is really important to me, and will be important to me. And it felt like validation, somehow to find something someone or a cause or a, you know, something that really meant something to me, and I was willing to, to make the focus and the rest of my life.
David Ralph [1:01:33]
I love the fact that you haven’t got a plan B, because I think that’s the way to do it. Now I really do. But years, I always had a, Plan B, Plan C, plan D. And when I started on this road, I knew that I’d burn all my bridges, I knew that I had to make this work, and no matter what would happen, I would make it work. And I think that is something that I’d never had before I really hadn’t. But it makes it easier in some ways, but also so much harder. Because, you know, know that you haven’t got an escape route.
Felicity Aston [1:02:01]
Yeah, I think, you know, having that edge of desperation.
helps it makes you you know, I mean, I remember, there was an expedition I was putting together a few years ago, and we were literally sort of two weeks from departure. And we needed, I mean, it was a modest sum of money, but it was larger than I could scrape together personally in order, you know, just to meet make ends meet to make this expedition possible. And yet, there was so much that was already in place, that it would have been a disaster if we’d failed. And, you know, there were a number of phone calls I hadn’t been willing to make, you know, literally, when ringing up CEOs of companies, you know, of whose numbers I happen to have, I thought no, this is really, really just to bring people personally and make a plea like that. I just, you know, I cannot do it. And yet, you know, that desperation just gave me that extra spur to ring, you know, those marketing directors and ring those people and make them sort of personal, please, you know, please, will you help us do this, and this is what we can give in return. And, you know, it made me push that extra mile. And, you know, we go the money that we needed. So I think, you know, having that extra desperation sometimes makes you go that last little distance that that makes a difference.
David Ralph [1:03:08]
I want to say that you’re always on a slippery slope. I mean, that would be that would just be wrong to say that when that?
Felicity Aston [1:03:15]
Um, I don’t know. I mean, you know, it is, I was a bit disappointed recently, when I realized, you know, I couldn’t take my foot off the pedal that you know, that there it never is that place where you’re in absolute security. But then I don’t think you know, as the the Jim Carrey quote said, you know, even if you have what is supposedly the safest job on the planet, still, you know, you’re, you’re not secure 100%, you don’t know what’s around the corner. So perhaps it’s sort of the same for everybody, whether you realize it or not, that you can’t afford to take your eye off the ball, you’re always, you know, looking forward to what potentially might happen and and where you want to go. You know, maybe maybe that’s the essence of our human journey, after all, is that your looking forward, and you still got miles to go yet?
David Ralph [1:04:04]
Well, although we’re always looking forward, this is the partner show that we’re going to ask you to look back, and we call it a sermon. And Mike, when I sent you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the younger Felicity, what age would you choose? And what advice would you give where we’re gonna find out now, because I’m going to play the theme tune. And when it Phaedra up, this is the Sermon on the mic.
Felicity Aston [1:04:49]
Well, let’s see, I remember you so well, I remember you are feeling really old, because you’re 27 and 30, is just around the corner winner. And you remember being 18, and your 18 year old self thinking, gosh, by the time I’m 30, I’m going to have it all sorted, I’m going to know where I’m going, I’m going to have the career I want and the family setup that you want. And you’re going to have a car and a house. And it’s all going to be so sorted. And I know that you’re desperately upset that, in fact, you’re now in the entire opposite place, you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know what you’re doing. I know all your friends have this sort of well planned out career path, you know, they’re all following the advice that we were given at school about, you know, you do this, and then you do that and you sit in your in a junior position, then you’re in a senior position, and then you’re a member of the board or something like that, and you’re doing the absolute opposite. You’re sitting there desperately trying to find the money to afford your car for the next six months. And it feels like you’re doing it all wrong. Well, you know, I am just here to tell you that, you know, have faith in your own heart, because it will work out. And you know, I know you know in your heart that you’re doing the right thing. So stop wasting time thinking about what else you should be doing and comparing yourself to what other people are doing. Because the only route that matters is the route you are following. And it doesn’t feel like you’re following any particular roadmap right now. And that is because that roadmap does not exist, there is no roadmap for what you want to do. And you know, the bit of advice I can give you now is that all the best things in life that happen are ones that you didn’t plan for. So forget about finding a map you’re spending all your time looking for, you know, some directions to show you where to go. Don’t do that. Instead, just focus on where you are going and the next step you are taking because when you look back on it, it will all make sense. So forget about that plan B, just go for it now know that it will all work out fine in the end.
David Ralph [1:07:03]
Felicity, how can our audience connect with you?
Felicity Aston [1:07:08]
They can connect with me through Twitter, I’m lyst the underscore Aston or Facebook, I’m on there as Felicity Austin, or I have a website that has all my details on which is Felicity aston.com. So I’m more than happy to chat to people over email like the internet. However, whatever form it comes in, so be more than happy to connect.
David Ralph [1:07:29]
Well, thank you so much for spending time with us today and joining those dots. Please come back again when you have more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build a futures. Felicity Aston, thank you so much.
Felicity Aston [1:07:43]
Thank you, it’s been a pleasure.
David Ralph [1:07:47]
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