4 Life Lessons from Adventurer Annelie Pompe

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.

– Joseph Campbell


Think back to the last time you did something adventurous. I’m talking about taking a big, heart-pounding leap of faith into the unknown. Was it last week? Last month? Last year? Never?

Keep in mind that we all, rightfully, have different individual definitions for what might constitute an adventure. I personally associate adventure with taking some sort of risk. For example, going on an escalator at a shopping mall is not very many peoples’ idea of an adventure. However, to someone who gets vertigo really easily (me!), it could easily feel like a daring activity.

However, even though I do get nervous every time I have to go on escalators, the last time I embarked on an epic adventure was deciding to leave Berlin to go volunteer in Uganda. While I’d do it all over again if I could, there were definitely lots of butterflies fluttering in my stomach during the weeks leading up to the plane flight.


One woman who’s certainly an inspiration when it comes to being adventurous is Swedish free-diver and mountaineer Annelie Pompe. At the young age of 31, Pompe has already been to some of the deepest places in the world — and also to some of the highest. She’s devoted her life to living adventure after adventure, and has an incredible, positive attitude about what it takes to truly live life to the fullest.



“Just because I’ve been at one of the highest places in the world and one of the deepest places in the world, it doesn’t mean that it stops there, because I’m not finished!” Annelie Pompe says. “There’s always ways you can evolve and learn new things, because what it’s really about is exploring  –  exploring new places, and what I can do with my body and what I can do with my mind. It’s about never giving up and always finding new ways. ”

There are so many life lessons that we can learn from this amazing woman. Here are the ones that I’m most passionate about!

1. Take a risk — experience life firsthand

AP: “You can read and study as much as you want. You can look deeply into the most complex of sports and subjects, spend hours on the internet. But there is nothing like the real experience. Keep an open mind. Don’t watch life going by, experience it.”

In a society that places so much worth on university degrees, social status, and material goods, it’s high time we shift our values toward the experiential. Actually getting out there in the world, meeting people, and throwing ourselves to the wind are the best ways to start living with our souls, not just our minds. Putting ourselves out there can feel vulnerable at times, but the rewards are so much more fulfilling than anything we can get from surfing the ‘net, or watching hours of TV. And that’s not say that we can’t do both! I’m sure few people regret the hours they spent watching Breaking Bad, or Mad Men; and yet, there is no substitute for living out our own dreams in reality. Everything in moderation — or, whatever feels right for you in your heart.



2. Acknowledge fear — then move through it

AP: “Fear is not to be feared. Fear usually starts with a thought of something that might or might not happen in the future. Since it’s just a thought, and the thought is in your own mind, you should be able to re-think. [Fear] will tell you when and where to focus. And it will tell you a lot about yourself.”

I look at fear the same way I look at stress: one way or another, it’s something I’m going to experience — so I may as well learn to work with it, instead of against it. At times, life is stressful and scary, for all of us. Accepting this by making peace with this uncomfortable truth can be life-changing. After all, it’s possible for fear to be a huge motivating factor in our lives. Recognizing when we feel scared and asking ourselves questions about the fear’s source can also help us get to know ourselves better. Rather than be afraid of fear, let’s give it a warm hug, and invite it to sit down for coffee. There is much potential for personal growth when we do successfully move through a scary situation.

Embracing fear means recognizing when we feel scared and asking ourselves questions about it. From there, we can move through any situation — and reap lots of joyful rewards. Photo courtesy of www.mynewsdesk.com.

3. Conscious Language — think before you speak

AP: “I believe in using words wisely. Once you’re said something, you can never put it back in again. I also believe in silence. When you are silent in both speech and mind, you will hear and understand much more. There’s an old [piece] of wisdom to let what you want to say pass through these gates of speech before you say it:

Is it true?

Is it necessary?

Is it beneficial?

Is it kind?”

I’m known among my friends for being quite wordy, both in speech and written text — so it’s no wonder that I’m quite sensitive to how people use words. Speaking thoughtfully can be harder than it sounds, though. During daily conversation, it’s easy to get caught up in our emotions and blurt out the first thing on our minds. But if we pause for a moment to ask whether our words are really contributing to the innate beauty of silence, we’ll often find that the answer is no. Commit to thinking before you speak: this will instantly have a positive ripple effect on everyone you encounter, strangers and loved ones alike.

Choosing our words wisely creates mental freedom for both ourselves and everyone with whom we connect. Photo courtesy of www.mynewsdesk.com.

 4. Compassion and empathy — share love with yourself and others

“I believe that you should be compassionate towards yourself, your body, and to others. And if you are strong or rich in some way, you should help the ones in need. We all have abilities and way to help.”

This is one of my favorites: being compassionate and empathetic toward ourselves is necessary for being able to give it freely to others. When we do so, life becomes much more fluid. Empathy gives us a chance to see how similar we all are in our shared human bond of emotional and physical needs. Likewise, it is much easier to take risks, face fears and speak consciously when we’re familiar with these two fundamental emotional tools.

Empathizing with ourselves gives us fuel to pass along the same courtesy to others, as well as to our sensitive underwater environments. Photo courtesy of www.sharksbay.com

Annelie Pompe not only talks the talk — she actively walks the walk by putting her money where her mouth is. Much like Soma’s change-making partnership with charity:water, Pompe donates 10% of her earnings from her personal training work to Cooperatives Without Limits. When businesses engage in social entrepreneurship, their work ends up affecting that many more people.

The next time we’re deciding whether or not to really go for something big that scares us, I encourage us all to take a page from Pompe and dive into life. Chances are, the only risks we’ll regret are the ones we don’t take


Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

– Helen Keller