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How I faced my fears in the Arctic

This is a very simple yet special video for me: it documents one of my first times ever driving zodiacs on my own… While I got my powerboat license in the UK, I learnt to properly drive boats in Svalbard, the first polar region I worked in as an outdoor guide.

It was the thing I was most scared of… the thought of being out in the wild, in the polar cold, carrying full responsibility for this vehicle and the lives of the people on it. What if the engine breaks? What if the zodiac gets punctured by a walrus? What if I get stuck in the ice? What if a swimming polar bear approaches me out of nowhere?

And then there’s the whole process of getting zodiacs ‘on the hook’ - the procedure you complete to attach the zodiac to the crane that takes them on and off the ship… 'parking' a zodiac in the right spot to catch the hook swaying above you - particularly when there’s lots of swell, wind and the ship’s thrusters throwing you off course - is not an easy feat. Especially not when all the sailors are looking at you and judging the newbie 😅

Or learning how to land on a beach, when and how much to lift the propellor, how to tie knots and properly anchor a zodiac… learning how to load guests on and off your zodiac, manoeuvre in reverse gear, and how to approach the ship’s gangway in choppy conditions. Knowing what to do when your engine stalls, when katabatic winds suddenly roll down the glacier, or how to act when a giant whale surfaces right beside you!

Confront your fears

The only way to get over fear is to go through it. So I made myself confront my fears and do the scary stuff as often as I could: I put my hand up for driving tasks whenever I could. With lots of hesitation at first, but each and every time a tiny bit more confident.

That was actually the main point of feedback my expedition leader in Svalbard gave me in his written appraisal: ‘Simone never holds back when it comes to volunteering to drive’.

Thanks to building my confidence so intentionally, my most feared task soon became my favorite part of the job: going on long zodiac cruises, looking for wildlife, getting lost in ‘iceberg graveyards’… my fearful frown was soon replaced by a smile from ear to ear that never left my face so long as I was captain over my own zodiac!

Such a sense of freedom. Of feeling like the coolest person in the entire world. The surreal joy of exploring such remote and inaccessible landscapes in such a special way, right on the water. It's one of the most epic things I ever got to do in my life thus far.

Me driving a zodiac amidst icebergs in Greenland

Your turn now

What's something you are scared of doing? And how is that fear holding you back? What feelings and experiences would become available to you if you could move beyond that fear?

And finally: how can you 'put your hand up' to make yourself do those actions and tasks that scare you? How can you practice doing the scary stuff, so that you too can start building that confidence?

If I had listened to the fear of zodiac driving, I would have missed out on some of the most epic life experiences ever. I'm so grateful to myself for pushing through, and I wish the same gratitude for you.

Plus, whenever you're ready, here's some more resources for you:

  • Read up on previous articles on my blog

  • Listen to real and raw coaching conversations on the Smart Rebel Podcast

  • Apply to work with me 1-1. Schedule a free discovery call here.

  • Book a 'Deep Dive' coaching experience if you're ready for a serious boost!

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