In 1997 Victoria Riches and her mother Sue were part of a world record breaking relay expedition as members of the first all women’s expedition to the North Pole, as recorded in their book, Frigid Women.
Victoria now lives near Bath, England, with her husband Jeremy Humphries, a film cameraman, and her young son Ben. She is Commercial Manager of Teachit, an online educational publishing company, and also still works as a motivational and after dinner speaker and runs personal development training courses.
For Victoria’s full bio, see the Anything Is Possible website.
[My apologies to Victoria for apparently speaking over her so much in this interview. We were on a poor telephone line from their rural home and I was having difficulty hearing her.]
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2:40 The selection process for the North Pole expedition
4:15 How expedition technology has changed over the last 15 years
5:50 Self-limiting beliefs and how they hold us back
6:05 Adventures don’t have to be expensive and time-consuming
6:50 Why aren’t there more women adventurers?
9:05 Vive la difference! between male and female adventurers (in connection with this, I loved Mikael Strandberg’s recent blog post, Can Female Explorers Save Us From Extinction?)
11:30 The dangers of the Arctic
14:10 How did the Arctic change Victoria’s life?
18:40 In Victoria’s work as a life coach, how does she impart her wisdom to her clients without taking them to the North Pole? Gets them to recall a moment when they felt confident and create a physical anchor to summon up that feeling on demand.
22:50 Getting away from the fear of failure and learning to take responsibility
26:00 Future dreams
Mistakes – the Best Teachers
“We all need to take responsibility and realise that it’s okay to make mistakes – that’s how you learn in life.” (Victoria Humphries)
I loved the moment in our podcast when Victoria said these words. I strongly agree that we are too afraid of making mistakes, and as Victoria’s mother Sue put it, we should more often say yes – and think about how to cope with it afterwards. (Richard Branson agrees.)
Maybe it starts in childhood, when our parents want to protect us from making mistakes. This is because they quite naturally don’t want us to get hurt if we overestimate about our ability to balance, or climb trees, or ride a bicycle, but it’s hard for over-protected children to develop a sense of personal responsibility – not to mention a sense of survival.
From my perspective, I have definitely learned more from my mistakes than from my successes. As the American novelist E. W. Howe once said, “A good scare is worth more to a man than good advice”. I’ve given myself more good scares than I care to remember, but luckily none of them were terminal, and you can be sure I never made those mistakes again.
Our podcast tagline is “adventure is a state of mind” – and in my view, that state of mind has to encompass a willingness to fail. And this doesn’t just refer to physical mishaps. To succeed in the ultimate adventure – that one called life – we have to be willing to step outside what is comfortable and strive higher, and acknowledge that the higher we strive, the more likely we are to screw up – but learning from that experience and trying again are the only way we can push the limits of human endeavour.
To quote again – this time from T. S. Eliot, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”.
I’ll finish with a question/challenge for you – how far would you go if you weren’t afraid to fail?
And if that question was too easy – supposing you did fail, just how bad could/would that be? Is it better or worse than never trying at all?