Just Find A Way
An Interview With Charles Scott, Family Adventure Guy
Charles is the author of Rising Son: A Father and Son’s Bike Adventure across Japan. The United Nations named Scott a “Climate Hero,” and Red Tricycle named him “One of NYC’s Coolest Dads.” Charles has biked over 7,000 miles with his young children across Japan, Iceland, Europe and the U.S., and has been featured in media around the world. He also guides blind athletes in endurance events and is preparing to lead a blind athlete on a single-day, 46-mile run across the Grand Canyon. Prior to founding the Family Adventure Guy, Charles worked at Intel Corporation for 14 years.
One of our main missions at ZIDILIFE is to inspire people to go beyond what they thought possible, pursue life in a meaningful way and take action. At what point in your life did you take a risk, a leap of faith, or face a challenge to grow into the person you’ve become today?
When I turned 40, I made a list of life goals and decided to start having adventures with my children while they were young. My kids were 7 and 2 at the time, and I wanted to show them the remarkable accomplishments they were capable of, while inspiring others in the process. I took a 2-month leave of absence from my job at Intel Corporation and cycled the length of Japan — 2500 miles in 67 days — with my son when he was 8 years old. I was so affected by the experience that I decided to write a book — Rising Son: A Father and Son’s Bike Adventure Across Japan. Since then, my kids and I have cycled the circumference of Iceland, across Western Europe and on the Lewis & Clark Trail over the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. In the summer of 2014, we are cycling 900 miles from New York City to Niagara Falls and back. We do these trips on our own, carrying all our gear and often sleeping in a tent.
What originally motivated/inspired you to change/evolve/take the next step?
Before my kids grow up and leave home, I want to give them the best gift I could think of: my time.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in life while working towards your goals?
On our bike trips, my main priority is keeping my children safe and ensuring that the physical effort is not too much for them. This is a constant challenge and one I take very seriously. Also, I left a well paid job in a prestigious company in order to create a life that was more balanced and focused on healthy living and time with my children. I certainly experienced moments of doubt when I gave up the security and income of my corporate life, but I knew that I was choosing the right path for me.
“Pay attention to the nudge that is telling you to take some action.”
How have you overcome those challenges?
Regarding safety, I research routes for our bicycle trips with as little vehicle traffic as possible. I ride at a safe pace and give my kids frequent breaks. Regarding leaving the corporate world, I planned my departure for two years, saved up money and wrote out a business plan to ensure that I could pay for the next phase of my life.
Who has been influential in your reaching your full potential? How so?
Something interesting happens when you choose an unconventional path: people emerge who want to help you succeed. My immediate family — especially my wife — and close friends have been very supportive, which matters a lot. But I’ve also received help and encouragement from new friends who were drawn to our family adventures and the talks I give.
What personal mantras do you abide by on a day to day basis?
One of my favorites is a quote from Charlie Plaskon, a 70-year-old blind athlete I guided in an Ironman triathlon. He said, “No one is interested in your best excuse. Just find a way.”
What advice do you have for those seeking to “go beyond”? How should they get started?
Pay attention to the nudge that is telling you to take some action. Spend time thinking through what you want to do, write out a plan, share it with people you trust and start working on it.
Looking back at where you are today, versus the places you used to be, what advice would you give your previous self?
Have confidence in your ability to overcome obstacles. I think many people are afraid to make a change because they aren’t sure how everything will turn out. Once you decide on a path that is meaningful for you, immediately take action.
What are your next goals/dreams/desires and aspirations? How will you get there?
This summer, I’m cycling approximately 900 miles with my kids, ages 13 and 7, to Niagara Falls and back. My wife will join the first two weeks of the ride, which will probably last five weeks. In October, I’m going to guide a blind athlete on a 46-mile run across the Grand Canyon and back in a single day. If we are successful, I believe that he will become the first blind athlete to complete this feat. My hope is to continue these endurance challenges with my family and disabled athletes for many years to come. The concept behind ZIDILIFE is excellent, and I’m honored to be a part of the community.