How to get there – 3 tips from the man who made it

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Having trouble getting where you want? Or about to set out towards a new goal? Take some tips from the man who achieved an (almost) impossible dream. He achieved it where others did not because he followed some simple rules. You can too!

Way back in 1862, crossing the continent of Australia from south to north through its centre had so far proved an impossible task.  Distance, isolation, heat, harsh terrain, lack of water, lack of knowledge about how to survive in the conditions – all these things meant many tried and failed.

The man who made it was John McDouall Stuart , a dour Scotsman from Adelaide, and one of Australia’s greatest explorers. Here’s what he did differently.

1/ He traveled light

Whereas many other explorers of the time set off with huge cavalcades of people, horses, camels and equipment (including formal dining settings!), Stuart travelled light. His team consisted of just a few men, very basic supplies, and rationed food. Even with just the basics, the men jettisoned equipment on the homeward journey to make it easier for the exhausted horses.

Most of us have excess baggage of some sort. What does your excess baggage look like? Does it come in the form of too much physical clutter and material stuff?  As well as taking up space and time, clutter overcrowds your mind and overstimulates your senses. Or are you lugging around emotional baggage? Feelings that have been held on to (sometimes for years) instead of being experienced and released can really weigh you down and hold you back. Perhaps it’s weighty expectations, old and outdated stories, and anything that’s past its use-by-date in your life – habits, responses and ways of thinking and acting that once were helpful but now no longer serve you. Or are you carrying too heavy a workload, filling your life with more activities than you actually have time to do? As a result, you can end up rushing from one thing to another, instead of allowing time for downtime and rest.

Pretend you are travelling by plane and have a luggage limit. You drag out everything you think you’ll need and lay it out on the bed. There’s so much stuff! Now you have to jettison 3/4 of it. It’s a tough job, and requires difficult decisions, but it means you can walk out the door easily pulling your luggage. Even then, you’ll probably get halfway through the trip and wonder why you brought so much stuff. So be strong, make those hard decisions, and simplify, simplify, simplify.

Tip 1. Don’t carry more than you need.


2/ He retreated and regrouped.

Stuart didn’t make his epic crossing the first time he attempted it. He had years of experience in exploring the area under his belt, and knew when it was possible to push through hardships and when it was time to draw back. Historian Stuart Traynor, in his book Alice Springs points out “Unlike his tragic contemporaries Burke and Wills, he knew when to admit defeat and withdraw. Each time he faced an insurmountable barrier in 1860 and 1861, he was wise enough to turn around, ride back to Adelaide, regroup and try again”.

So don’t go charging like a bull at a gate, without any regard for the circumstances. Recognize that goals are not usually reached in a continuous straight line. They involve detours, waiting for the right conditions and yes – sometimes turning back and regrouping. So be wise. Know when to move forward, and when to stop and take the rest you need and gather your resources. These resources can take many forms. It might be more knowledge, material resources, people to encourage, mentor and support you (essential – don’t skip that one!), getting your health and energy levels back on track, or simply being re-inspired. It might also mean waiting for others to come on board, or for the time to be right.

Tip 2. Know when to pull back, rest and regroup. 


3/ Everybody in his group mattered.

Stuart inspired great loyalty in his men, partly because of his expertise, courage and determination, but also because he always looked out for the welfare of his companions. His men and his horses (including his faithful mare Polly) mattered to him, and he did what he could to ensure their wellbeing.

So realize that you don’t travel alone. We all need travel companions – for sharing the work and contributing their expertise, but also for support, encouragement and companionship. Carry others along with you, take time to notice how they are doing and show regard for their welfare.

Tip 3. Travel as a group – don’t try and do it alone. Show respect and regard for those that travel with you.


So there we have it – tips from the man who made it. And even though his journey was taken over 150 years ago, his tips are still really useful for us today.

Happy travelling, and wishing you a successful journey – wherever it leads you.


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