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Video: What It Takes to Be an Adventurer

“While talent plays a role in these people’s feats and their successes, it’s not what makes their ideas a reality. It’s grit, creativity, passion, kindness, and love—that’s the human spirit.”

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Last Thursday we announced our new Adventurers of the Year. This year’s group includes 13 people who have pursued a life of adventure on their own terms and in different ways. Once again we are asking for you to vote for the People’s Choice every day through January 31, 2014. You can meet all the adventurers in this video or in photos.

Some people in this group may be familiar to you—elite athletes such as sky runner Kilian Jornet or rock climber Adam Ondra, both pushing boundaries and redefining what’s possible.

Others you should know about—Amy and Dave Freeman, of Wilderness Classroom, who finished a three-year paddling, dogsledding, and hiking adventure around North America while engaging schoolkids along the way. Or Stacy Bare and Nick Watson, both climbers and war veterans, who saw that the outdoors could heal a wound and bind their community through Veterans Expeditions.

Some pulled off a bold and daring adventure. Alpinists Ian Welsted and Raphael Slawinski claimed the first ascent of Pakistan’s K6 West just after the Nanga Parbat base camp massacre happened. Big-wave surfer Greg Long nearly died surfing at Cortes Bank, but came back to win the Big Wave World Tour, surfing with conviction but also changed.

Others were confronted with an unplanned challenge. Snowboarder Kevin Pearce, a top competitive snowboarder, suffered a traumatic brain injury on the half pipe. Recovery alone would be enough for most people. But Kevin has transformed his life to help others with brain injuries and prevent future ones through Love Your Brain.

Then there is long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad. It took her 35 years to complete her goal of swimming 110-miles from Cuba to Florida. She reminds us to never give up.

We honor Swiss solo walker Sarah Marquis. We tracked her progress for years as she trekked from Siberia to south Australia. She slept in a tent for more than 1,000 nights. And her stories are amazing.

And finally, skier JP Auclair first won our hearts when he starred in and directed the All.I.Can street skiing scene to LCS Sound System’s “Dance Yrself Clean.” He blows us away with his athleticism, creativity, and kindness. He’s one of the most influential skiers of his generation.

Selecting the Adventurers of the Year is not an easy process. We build a long list of accomplishments all year long. We poll our advisory board, composed of 35 outdoor industry luminaries and previous Adventurers of the Year, for leads and ideas. Then writer-filmmaker Fitz Cahall and I dig in, researching and shaping the list until we have the right mix of inspiration, creativity, passion, grit, and love.

Fitz’s own story is unique. He is a passionate storyteller committed to the outdoor community. Seven years ago he realized that no one was going to give him the job he wanted, so he created it himself. That made all the difference in the world.

Over the years and on a daily basis, we’ve thought a lot about what it means to be an adventurer. Fitz says it perfectly in the Adventurers of the Year manifesto video above: “You have to do the thing that makes you tick. Do it on a daily basis. Do it unapologetically. Do it with love.”

Whether you are an adventurer or a person chasing your dreams, there are innumerable ways to push your own boundaries and create meaning in life. Just go for it.