[Profiles] John Goddard: Patron Saint of Bucket Lists

This is part of a series of posts I’m running called “Profiles in Awesomeness”.  In it, I talk about the disgustingly prolific and ridiculously accomplished thinkers and doers whose lives and philosophies can inspire us and teach us how to accomplish our own goals.

This is my first profiles in awesomeness post, and I think an appropriate subject is John Goddard.  Here’s why.

When John Goddard was 15, a friend of his dad’s told him he regretted not doing all the things he wanted to when he was John’s age.  John, struck by the comment, got out a yellow legal pad and scribbled out 127 things he wanted to do before he died.

He was a pretty ambitious 15-year old.  Heavy hitting items include:

  • Circumnavigate the globe
  • Climb Cheop’s pyramid
  • Climb Kilimanjaro, Rainier, the Matterhorn, and Everest
  • Milk a poisonous snake
  • Hold breath underwater for 2.5 minutes
  • Explore the Amazon, Congo, and Nile rivers from source to mouth

Etc, etc, for 127 items.

Now here’s the ridiculous thing.  While most 15-year old boys could have compiled a similar list, most of us wouldn’t dedicate the rest of our lives to achieving every single one of them.

He did.

In fact, with the exception of Everest, he’s accomplished every item I listed above.  Plus about a hundred more.  It’s not everything on his list– he still has a few more volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica to read and 30 or so countries to visit (166 down, if that counts for anything).  But seriously, look at this list.  Unbelievable stuff.  You could call him a professional explorer, but he’s also a speaker and an author.

Here’s some ancient video in which he’s interviewed for NBC Dateline.  I think my favorite part is how understated the man is.  When asked how he was able to do all of these things, guess what he said.  It’s not some psychological theory about how the mind and motivation works; it’s not some weird way of filing papers on your desk.  As strategies for a lifetime of achieving his childhood dreams, he cites:

“Good role models.  And deadlines.”

Whoa.  It almost sounds like walking the walk will get you farther than all the talk in the world.  Leave a comment if you know someone I should do a writeup on– or particularly if you know someone who’s done an amazing amount of stuff with strategies so simple, you’d never see them written up on a productivity blog.

Oh, and here’s his book of adventures, which I have not read:



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