David Cornthwaite is one of the most inspiring individuals you will ever be lucky enough to meet. He has done what most people spend days fantasizing about but are too scared to do – to get out of the race to start living life. For the past 8 years, David has become a record-breaking adventurer who has traveled over 16,000 miles as part of his groundbreaking Expedition1000, a project to take 25 journeys of 1000 miles each without motorized transport, raising funds for charity. He has written 3 books, entertained audiences on 6 continents, broken 9 world records, made hundreds of short films and completed countless quirky projects a true inspiration!
My Definition Of Success | How I perceive success has definitely changed over the years. Early on in my life – before I had any personal success – my idea of it was based on the expectation of others, I suppose. A good income, big house, etc. Now, I think success is who you are and how you live, use your time and what you pass on to others. Strip everything material away and then assess your character and priorities; success is waking up every morning and looking forward to the day, even if you don’t know what’s going to happen.
What Drives Me | I think I can answer this in two parts. Early on, when I found myself in a job that I wasn’t exactly excelling at, I was driven by the harmonious horror of monotony and misery that eventually catches up on you if you live a life without newness. Basically, I didn’t want to waste my life! A few years on, my motivations have evolved. I’ve taken some decisions and developed my values by default of my actions and I don’t think I could get sucked in by the seductions of society. I live out of a bag, haven’t had a home for several years, and as a consequence I’m driven by the protection of that freedom. You have to stay on your toes if you don’t stay in the same place for too many days on the trot and don’t have a regular income. Without those fall back plans I simply have to act, perform, write and most importantly, do what I love in order to get the stories that I base my living on.
The Difference Between good And Great | It’s easy to be good at something, all you need to do is spend some time on it. I think then being great at it requires you to live it, love it and take it to another level. Do you want to exist or evolve? If it’s the latter, you’ve taken the first step to being great.
The Key Strength | From the outside I think my lifestyle is appealing to others because my adventures are really attractive window dressing. But I don’t train, I’m not an expert in any particular discipline, so in raw terms anyone could do any of the adventures I’ve done. My strength has been to make some tough(ish) decisions to detach just enough from a traditional western lifestyle to allow the freedom to chase this life full-time. I carry pretty much everything I need to live, work and play, which means I’ve totally stripped down my outgoings, which in turn means I’m not under extreme pressure to do something I don’t enjoy just for money. This has given me time to work on my own adventures, speaking, writing, everything that means something to me. I think the most valuable thing I did was promise myself that I’d give myself every chance to reach my potential, whatever that was. Which means I need to use every day as well as I can. To give that some perspective I haven’t been bored since April 13th 2005, which is the day before I quit the last job I had.
The Principles I Live By | Evolve, don’t just exist. Consume only what you need. Connect with nature to the point where you gain pleasure from free things. Be brutally honest with yourself at all times. And say yes more.
How I Use My Mind | I’m on an eternal battle to break down my fears and now if I’m ever second guessing myself because I’m scared or worried about doing something, the fear passes instantly because I absolutely adore the potential for failure – or more specifically, the lessons I’ll learn from that failure. That’s not to say I’m disappointed if I succeed (!), just that if I do something new I know I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
My Dreams And Ambitions | I have a project called Expedition1000, to take on 25 different journeys of at least 1000 miles in distance, each using a different form of non-motorised transport. So far I’ve done 8 of them, so there’s plenty of distance left to cover. Along the way I’d like to raise £1,000,000 for charity, both directly and through my experiences inspiring others to go off and do their own projects for charity.
The Meaning Of Life | Humans are the only creature on this planet capable of perpetual forward planning and ambition, which means we can be in a constant state of flux and development if we choose to be, With this in mind, if we don’t make an effort to reach our capacity and potential we’re not doing ourselves justice. The only thing we really have control of is how we spend our time, so on any given day I want to be able to look back and think, yep, I couldn’t have done any more with my time. If I do that, I’ve done myself justice.
On Getting Rich | I’m 34 and earn less than half of what did when I had a job, but my life is richer because I base my wealth on my experiences rather than the cash in my pocket. Every penny someone earns is a penny someone else doesn’t have, so aiming to accumulate monetary or material wealth always has a form of negative impact. Always. My advice: don’t forget to be kind with what you have.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | All in all, I think adventure is a beautifully simple and often free way of paring down what we need to enjoy life, so everywhere I go I try to introduce adventure to people, and help break down the various obstacles that hold them back from their first step. Happiness is such an overused term, but happy people share more, are better company for others and contribute to making the world a better place. I’d just love to leave behind a better world than the one I came into.