☆☆☆ I N S P I R E - The Project ☆☆☆
Every week, I will share people's dreams, projects, passions, because I believe we can all inspire and encourage each other to create the life we really believe in. This project is called INSPIRE.
Sharing is Caring
If you are a passionate entrepreneur and you think you are making an impact in this world by living and sharing your dreams and ideas, get in touch with me so I can promote your work to inspire others to live their life their way.
contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
☆☆☆ Gilles Denis ☆☆☆
Gilles Denis is a Belgian globe-trotter, life lover and dreamer, physicist at heart, expedition travel guide in southern Greenland and apprentice adventurer on a quest for self-accomplishment.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a 27 years’ old curious city-boy from Brussels who’s rapidly become fascinated by big open spaces and wilderness. As well as the human-typical process of turning a dream into a project and that project into action – from shear madness to something doable to it actually being done!
What happened for you over the last couple years?
After high school I got to travel a fair bit, with a sabbatical year in Canada and New Zealand first. Discovered a ton but above all got to know myself better and better. Being alone helps!
I studied physics at University because it appeared to me the subject would answer most of my many questions. But as I got to travel more and more these questioning switched to a quest for self-accomplishment – finding my life’s purpose and meaning: what would be my input to the world ? And how do I turn an abstract idea into a reality.
When did things fall into place? When did you suddenly get it?
For a long time I’ve looked up to people like Sylvain Tesson, Nicolas Vanier, Mike Horn, Alain Hubert – people who made a living from daring expeditions in the wilderness to travel conferences, book writing, photography, adventure film-making and sponsorship. Every day those guys give new meanings to the word ‘impossible’! But I thought I personally lacked the physical and mental stamina for such endeavors, or something I really excelled at and could inspire people with…
But then two things happened: first was a 3 months’ long winter expedition in the Canadian Arctic (see my blog http://moderngoldrush.weebly.com/) and second was my confrontation with the aspect of our ‘classical’ Belgian lifestyle I dread the most: routine. Through that first experience I realized I was stubborn enough to pursue my dreams and that I can be just who I am – I now believe that anybody with passion will always be listened to with interest. Through the later I understood that there was no way I could sit in an office 8 hours a day and that I needed not only the outdoors but ‘drive’ to channel my energy.
How did you experience this life changing experience personally?
So at the end of March 2017 and without further working perspectives I quit my Phd in Climate Physics and set myself a goal for my 30th birthday: to set up a new expedition – one that would be ambitious and original enough to convince sponsors and partners beforehand and that would also provide me with enough material (photographs, film footage, anecdotes) to take advantage of it afterwards through conferences, photo exhibition, movie, book – who knows? – and hopefully start making a career out of this.
Why did you decide to become an outdoor guide?
I didn’t decide. I tried. It worked out and I love it!
Two years ago I was in Asia climbing with my best friend and at some point it rained a lot, which got us stuck in the little Chinese village we stayed in. There we started talking about future perspectives. My parents had recently come back from some hiking holidays two weeks in southern Greenland and they had talked to me of the guides there and their lifestyles. My friend and I thought it might suit us well! So I contacted them and a few months later both of us were in Greenland under some collaboration contract (we worked for two months as assistants for the real guides in exchange for our flights, room and board). I ended up staying longer and at the end of the season they needed an extra guide for a two weeks’ hiking tour and decided to put me to the test. “Here is your group” – 12 people from Spain, Germany, the US – “guide them!” Just that ahah! I was quite lucky… Now I work for them as a guide. And I have my own assistants ahah!
What is your daily life now?
I don’t have much of a ‘daily life’… My life is a never-ending construction site, it is in constant evolution and I move a lot which is both exciting and tiring. Since April 2017 I worked in private tutoring with secondary school students; did some sea kayaking course in England; then went to southern Greenland for the months of July to September where I recently started to work for a Spanish company guiding groups of up to 12 people on hiking, sea kayaking and glacier expeditions; and now I just came back from one month in Yunnan (China) training with friends for Big Wall climbing (rock climbing which involves sleeping on a vertical wall). Now I’m in Belgium for a bit working on my next projects.
Which fears do you have now?
I don’t mind to be 'the awkward guy' but I don’t want to stand all alone in this. I fear that my path is taking me further and further away from my friends and family. And I fear that it might make me quite selfish.
What makes you jump out of bed in the morning?
During trips and expeditions what makes me jump out of bed/sleeping bag is the thrill of discovery and new experiences. In between, it’s the hope that I might make the miracle happen one day: turn impossible into possible!
What is your philosophy of Life?
Hum… ‘You never know if you never try’ I guess. Also ‘love your life’ – it will no doubt make you a better person.
Which values do you want to share through what you do?
I feel a lot of people don’t trust themselves for their capacity to change and adapt. So when the time comes, if your situation doesn’t suit your needs or vision, be brave enough to change!
Freedom is a state of mind (at least for those of us lucky enough to be born in a good environment and with an education).
Where does your inspiration come from?
Ahah! I just need to look at the map of the world and all sorts of crazy ideas pop out! I'm following the dreams that I dreamed as a child.
How do you feed your creativity?
Listening and talking to people driven by passion. Life lovers. Like Kerouac, only the mad ones really matter to me. Because madness is key to creativity and large undertaking.
What do you think makes your Difference? What is your purpose – your big Why?
I don’t feel much different. But I dream big and I’m stubborn. Also I love my life and since I don’t believe in reincarnation or paradise I want to make the most of it!
What’s next for you in the coming months?
I aim to split my time between guiding jobs and preparation of my next expedition project in two years’ time. I’m looking at other opportunities to guide in Greenland and elsewhere – would love to guide backcountry skiing trips in the Yukon, the most wonderful place in the world (working on it!). I plan to better train myself as a trekking, sea kayaking and arctic guide – not really interested in the mountaineering career though… And for my next big project I’ll have to train hard in various disciplines so it will involve day-to-day training as well as pre-expeditions. And then a lot of logistics and networking.
Any advice for people who want to create the life of their dreams?
Accept the possibility of failure.
Do what you do with passion.
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Thanks for sharing your story Gilles!
I strongly believe you inspire people by following your dreams.
Next project: #greenlandictriathlon
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Love & Light, as we said ♥