What would you say is the definition of “fortitude?” I believe fortitude is about staying on the path to your dreams, even while the world is crumbling around you. Here is a story to help illuminate this definition.
It’s 6 a.m. in the Cuzco, Peru airport writing in my travel journal as I get set to fly Cuzco>Lima>Madrid>Dublin over the next 18 hours to lead our next Under30Experiences group through Ireland.
Obviously, it’s easy to run on pure adrenaline but there is a lot more to it than that.
In the last three weeks, I had to ascend and descend from the Andes to sea level 4x, from the highest point on our trip at 13,000+ feet to visit the indigenous Quechua people to take our travelers for a wintertime surf session in the Pacific.
Sleeping at 11,000+ feet is hard on the body.
A lot of us had to fight dehydration, altitude sickness, and — thanks to a bad salad in the Lima Airport — food poisoning. I also had a freak reaction to South American red onions which apparently is equivalent to a peanut allergy. Four nights in a row with numbness of the face and hives! It made me question exactly what I’ve been putting my body through.
The crazy part is despite it all…I sent my Mom a picture. She wrote back, “Wow Matthew, you look happy, healthy, and handsome.” I have to agree…it’s 110% true. (Well, maybe not the last, but thanks, Mom.)
Not the Whole Story
It’s cliche to say “doing something I love” and “being free” made me this way. However, that’s not the whole story.
In reality, I’ve placed an extreme focus on taking care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. After four years of practicing yoga, I’ve let go of almost all my anger, stress, and anxiety. These used to hold me back and make me physically ill.
A year ago my friend Adam Griffin from the fitness company Bodeefit turned me onto the Bulletproof Executive blog where I’ve religiously followed their diet and biohacks to maintain my health and fitness.
Then thanks in part to my friend Michael Jacobs I was turned on to meditation which even though can sound esoteric, has been scientifically proven to put your neurology in deeper healing states than sleep. I haven’t missed a day in over a year and on my 12-hour flight Lima>Madrid I’ll put in my headphones and put my mind and body in recovery mode.
True Fortitude Definition
This type of physical and mental resiliency (one’s ability to recover and bounce back) could not be possible however without being extremely particular about the people I surround myself with.
My co-founder and best friend since 4th grade Jared O’Toole has been calm, cool, and collective through teenage years that could have sent us to juvi, to making our business work in the beginning when it was on the verge of collapse. Our team, especially Cesar Romero and Courtney Slade are some of the kindest, most caring, and most committed people you’ll ever meet and would do anything to make our U30X travel community a success.
Now, our little team has the daunting goal of running over 100 travel experiences across the globe in 2016. We do all this to give young people the same life-changing opportunities we’ve had.
On the surface, people see salsa dancing, glacier hikes, Balinese temples, and other bucket list activities. However, at the end of the day, our commitment to sustainable tourism and improving the lives of our travelers runs a whole lot deeper than first glance.
At the end of the day, people who really know me know that I take being crazy as a compliment. Luckily, I’m no longer destroying Jared’s Ithaca College dorm room. I’ve also learned to direct my energy and attract attention with a more positive focus.
More Positive Focus
Building base-level habits to take care of myself has given me the energy to work on things like Under30Experiences and the Live Different Podcast. These bring smart people together to do more meaningful things during our short time on this planet. So I would not say the fortitude definition is about being tough or strong. Rather, it’s about taking a positive focus and caring for what matters.
Thanks for reading if you got this far. Maybe this will give you a little nudge to do the work to become more healthy and happy. And even handsome, like my Mom says.