I left the ranch in August 2014, and on the day I left I noticed a quote plastered on the kitchen fridge: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
I had to smile because staying at the ranch was definitely being at the edge of what I was comfortable with. My time at Chilcotin Holidays was filled with lots of exciting adventures, but also with many frustrations, confrontations, and challenges.
To be honest; I felt the urge to leave more than once.
However, since then I’ve learnt that being at the end of my comfort zone isn’t supposed to be fun at all. In fact, the biggest problem most people have is believing they shouldn’t have problems.
You’ve most likely heard the story about the boy who wanted to help a butterfly out of its cocoon by cutting it open. As the butterfly emerged, it had small, unshaped wings, and as a result, it quickly died. That’s because the butterfly actually needed to wrestle its way out of the cocoon so it could strengthen its wings.
The struggle was necessary.
And so, not long after returning to the ordinary world, I decided to no longer let comfort kill my ambitions and began to challenge myself even more.
I had the crazy idea to ride a bicycle from Holland to Istanbul. In 65 days I cycled across nine countries, including Romania where feral dogs repeatedly chased me. Luckily, after being a guide in the Chilcotin Mountains— and dealing with several bear encounters— these dogs didn’t scare me too much anymore.
In the years that followed I learnt Kung Fu in the Mountains of Northern Thailand, swore a vow of silence in a Buddhist Forest Monastery, and worked with street children that live on the border of Thailand and Myanmar.
A few months ago I finished my latest adventure: A 6000 kilometer walk across Europe and the Middle East. I did it entirely without money to show that the world isn’t nearly as bad as what you see on TV and to raise funds for the street children that I worked with back in 2015.
I not only survived, but I thrived and actually gained weight.
Back in 2014, while still at the ranch, one of my goals was to learn to speak in public. Something that made me very nervous at the time. But during Julie’s Witness – a weekly get-together where everyone at the ranch sets and shares their goals – I had the opportunity to challenge these fears.
After I left the ranch I continued to practice my skills; I took public speaking lessons, did a speechwriting course, and joined a Toastmasters club. And three years later I was scouted to give a TEDx Talk in front of 600 people.
If you want to watch my TEDx Talk, you can do that here: http://henkvanderklok.com/tedx
Or if you want to watch the youtube series about my moneyless walk, you can do that here: https://www.youtube.com/henkvanderklok
Since then my dreams have come true.
I’m currently living in Ireland, and I’m speaking at adventure festivals & companies throughout Europe to inspire audiences to try new things, to live at the edge of their comfort zone, and to nudge people toward finding out what they’re really capable of.
If I hadn’t pushed myself through that barrier of fear, I would never have known that all my fears were unjustified.
I’m now in the early stages of planning my next big adventure. In upcoming years I will either break the world record longest barefoot journey. (Currently held by an Irishmen who walked 2,080 kilometers without shoes.) Or I will trek 1400 kilometers across Siberia between the two coldest inhabited towns in the world. Or maybe I’ll do both.
I’m excited about what’s to come, and I can honestly say that being outside my comfort zone has become my comfort zone.
And as the fridge at the Chilcotin Holiday’s ranch taught me: That’s where the magic happens.
I couldn’t see it at the time, but I want to thank you and Chilcotin Holidays for pushing me to be more.
Wishing you all the best,