Hunt Jennings – Outcome vs Self-worth
By: Dave Hughes/ founder of Patagonia Study Abroad. (http://patagoniastudyabroad.com/)
We recently interviewed Patagonia Study Abroad alumni Hunt Jennings. Hunt is a student of kayaking in the most pure sense of the word “student.” His words reflect a methodology to his schooling as he learns and tests himself again and again. As you read you may agree that “kayaking” can be “applicable learning” for the rest of us.
Hunt Jennings: “The way I approach kayaking most days is to learn from it – in any form. I try to take away as much from a day paddling Class III as I do from running a big waterfall. You try to have fun, but you are constantly thinking and learning. I have advanced pretty quickly from this mindset.”
“You do bigger things to be able to test the skills you learn. Like if you are in school, you don’t take a math exam everyday. You practice problems daily and if you like math, then you like doing problems. When you are ready you are tested to see what you have mastered and what still needs work. Kayaking daily is the fun learning part, and the big things like a race or challenging rapid are to test and see if things have been learned correctly. They also illustrate whether or not I am able to perform under pressure.”
“I began trying to define my successes not by the actual outcomes of things I choose to do, but rather by what I learned from the experience. So, much of the learning about self is found in the decision process.”
Practice or test. Are you ready?
“An example for me with Patagonia Study Abroad might be at the Middle Palguin, deciding whether or not to run Stout 10. Say you run the drop and get slammed into the wall, and don’t have the smoothest line. If you focus on the outcome of the line then you might get upset and question your ability as a kayaker, and or as a person in general. Try to take away what you can learn from each experience, and identify what you can do to improve your skills in kayaking AND decision-making.”
“For developing kayakers, or any kayaker for that matter, a tough decision might be choosing whether to run the lower Trancura with the “less experienced group” or the Upper Palguin with the “stout group”. It is important to be able to identify what you actually want to do, why you want to do it, and what is causing you to act contrary to your instinct. Is it pressure? If you really feel like running the Lower Trancura to work on ferries and eddy catching, but choose to go down the Upper Palguin because the “cool kids” are going there, you probably won’t get as much out of your day of kayaking. There are constant opportunities to develop decision-making skills, as most kayaking decisions are solely under our control. Becoming good at identifying your motives in small situations will lead to better, easier decisions in crux moments of extreme pressure.”
Basis of Self Worth
“If your self-worth is based on the outcome of your line, or anything you do, two things will happen. One, you are going to feel bad about yourself a lot because, as humans, we will fail. So if every time you fail you lose confidence and self esteem, you will most likely stop doing things to push and progress yourself, in turn blocking you from reaching your full potential. Failing is how we learn. If you base self-worth on not failing then you will, in turn, stop learning.”
Wolf Creek. The Big Test.
“At Wolf Creek a lot of skilled kayakers did not want to go with me because they thought it was too crazy. Personally, I assessed and understood what it would take to run it, but everyone was discouraging me. I’d studied it and was coached by the only person who had ran it, Pat Keller. But at the moment of decision to run or not I was trying to decide what was the basis for my decision. If I don’t run it, then the decision would be based on a fear of crashing, and what people would think. If I did run it then the decision would be based on my research – studying the problem, understanding what was required, and knowing I had mastered the skills needed to successfully complete it. I knew in this moment it was something I had to do.”
About Wolf Creek- Video Below
Editor’s Note: To Hunt, the series of rapids leading to crux drops was a problem with a solution. His preparation included interviewing Pat Keller, the only person to run this section, an accumulation of experience on similar creeks, confidence in his ability to perform, and first-rate expedition safety. Due diligence factors contribute to mitigating risk and, ultimately, having confidence in one’s final decision.
“To me it’s never bad to run or walk any rapid, but it is your reasoning behind the decision that makes it a good or bad call.”
“Another example for me was a Class V rapid on Gilman Gorge. Slurry Pipe had a lot of ugly road debris, rebar, pipes and manmade stuff in it. It had been a long day and I was not feeling it and had decided to walk. But then Brody (Kellogg) and his younger brother decided to run it and my thoughts kicked and the voice in my head told me I shouldn’t be the only one to walk it. So I began to want to run the rapid based on the fact that younger paddlers with less experience were going to run it. As a lesson to younger paddlers, and myself, I portaged and set safety.”
“A big part of this is the ability to be completely honest with yourself and capable of addressing why you are thinking about doing certain things. At Wolf Creek, honesty with self was partially being influenced by a worry about what others would think if I did run it, and at Slurry Pipe, I was worried about what others would think if I did not. Both were equally important decisions, with two different actions.”
“Kayaking can be a way you express yourself almost like an artist. A master painter wouldn’t decide to paint something based on what someone wants them to paint, but based on their vision. The painting becomes more meaningful because you are doing it for your own motives. Through your ability to express yourself based on your own motives, you can also help others create a way to do the same.”
“I have a lot of fear that I deal with in kayaking. I’ve seen some close calls and some bad things that have happened and hearing difficult stories is something that I struggle with. I don’t talk about it a lot but I have those fears. Recognizing motives has helped me a lot because if you are afraid to mess up then you are not going to try anything or if you do then what?”
PSA vs. doing Chile yourself?
“90% of people don’t do what they could’ve done or were passionate about at the time. To me it’s cool to take everyday experiences and apply it to decision making. I had to make that decision when I decided whether to go to college or attend Patagonia Study Abroad. I almost went to Chile by myself but I learned a lot about myself by doing the study abroad semester.”
“I was kayaking and pushing myself but PSA made me define my motives and to use decision-making skills. That was a point that forced me to address my reasoning behind things versus just watching Bomb Flow vids and getting fired up just to go run stuff. I hear so many students saying they can’t do that and I need to finish school. But few have their personal motives or passions as the answer. Their answer is fear based about what their parents will think or that they have to go to college now as if their life would be a failure if they took a semester off. When in actuality understanding purpose and reasons for decisions is more about learning than worrying about self-worth and fear of criticism.”
“Kayaking helps decision making because on a day to day basis it forces you to make small decisions and when you come to big decisions you’ll have confidence from those experiences. For example whether or not to accept a job or weigh the decision of pursuing your passions or balancing school with kayaking.”
About PSA’s Decision Making Module
Pataongia Study Abroad’s Success Habits course teaches “Decision Making” as a course module. Do you understand your motives and have you defined principles for decisions? Other course modules include: purpose of meaning, logistics, budgeting, advanced first aid, swift water rescue, expedition planning, going the extra mile, winning personality, positive mental attitude, and more.
PSA philosophy, “Benefits all it affects.”
By David Hughes, Founder/Director- Patagonia Study Abroad/ Owner- Pucón Kayak Hostel