At the heart of Muddy Shoe Adventures' mission, vision, and approaches to transformational travel, adventure-based coaching, and personal development is a sturdy and well-documented body of research. Michael's doctoral research focused on exploring and identifying the critical elements of adventure travel experiences that ultimately lead to some form of transformational learning. The results were the first of their kind to empirically suggest that there was a clear pattern for how and why people change as a result of adventure experiences. Seven core themes were identified and are present throughout all that we do here Muddy Shoe Adventures:
- Answering the Call to Adventure
- Entering a Zone Unknown
- Being Open to Experiences & Transformation
- Engaging in Extraordinary & Challenging Experiences
- Having Meaningful Interactions w/ People
- Reconnecting to the Self
- Taking Purposeful Action
THE CALL TO ADVENTURE
First, individuals heed a CALL TO ADVENTURE, where they have an intrinsic motivation to travel, grow, and transform. They are driven by the desire for a career-change, or they are going through a life transition—birth, death, divorce, retirement, etc., or they are experiencing a general feeling of discontentment in life that is inspiring them to go seek out something new in their lives!
THE ZONE UNKNOWN
Inspired by this call to adventure, they then travel to and enter a ZONE UNKNOWN—a foreign land where they are unfamiliar with the landscape, the culture, the language, and/or the people. Here, they are able to disconnect from life back home—the obligations, the responsibilities, the roles they are asked to play—and can focus on the idea of reconnecting with themselves.
BEING OPEN TO EXPERIENCES & TRANSFORMATION
As they venture into the Zone unknown, travelers keep an open mind and heart. While they have specific goals or intentions for their journey, they also remain open to whatever other experiences come their way. They go with the flow, follow their hearts, and let the experience unfold for them.
EXTRAORDINARY CHALLENGES & EXPERIENCES
In this Zone Unknown, individuals are often faced with many EXTRAORDINARY & CHALLENGING EXPERIENCES. These challenges can be physical, cultural, social, emotional, mental, psychological, and/or spiritual. Comfort zones are pushed. Boundaries are redrawn. Perspectives shift.
During these travel experiences, the individual inevitably encounters people with whom they have critical, meaningful, and authentic interactions that often form the foundation upon which the subsequent transformations are made. Sometimes, the people they encounter take the form of the helper, who assist them through their challenges. Other times, the person is the challenge, and they are forced to draw on their own resources to overcome this person. And sometimes, the person is both helper and antagonist.
RECONNECTING TO THE SELF
Through the series of interactions and challenges, the traveler has an opportunity to reflect on him/herself, create meaning from the experiences, and RECONNECT TO THEIR TRUE SELF. The re-connection with self was found to be the central element of the transformational learning process that these travelers experienced. All of the events, experiences, and interactions that took place before the transformation all ultimately led to one critical event: the individual re-discovering their values, strengths, passions, purpose, and potential.
TAKING PURPOSEFUL ACTION
From this reconnection to self, the individual then TAKES PURPOSEFUL ACTION towards manifesting change in their lives. Oftentimes, this action takes the form of: (1) a career change, (2) a shift in one’s priorities and perspectives, (3) starting and/or ending a relationship, or (4) a renewed commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Throughout this process of challenge and transformation, the individual remains OPEN TO EXPERIENCE & TRANSFORMATION; they immerse themselves in the travels, harbor no expectations, and willingly give themselves to the opportunities being offered. This openness creates the space for transformation to occur.