Let go of the vine! An interview with EAIE Conference speaker Sebastian Terry

Let go of the vine! An interview with EAIE Conference speaker Sebastian Terry

Sebastian Terry, the brains (and brawn) behind the ‘100 Things’ campaign, a global movement of people chasing their dreams and helping others to do the same, flew from his native Australia into Prague to deliver a rousing keynote speech (barefoot!) at the Closing Plenary of the 2014 EAIE Conference. If you missed it, here’s an insight into the campaign and the man behind it all.

What was the hardest challenge you’ve done so far?

All of the items from my list are challenging but funnily enough, for all of the gruelling physical challenges I’ve completed I actually found Number 72: Stay Awake for 72 hours the hardest! It’s no wonder that sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture but thankfully I managed to line up a variety of fun activities to help me get through. The mental battles were huge!

How do you plan to carry out point number 5 on your list: save a life?

I always thought that this item would be left up to fate, ie that I might randomly walk past someone drowning in a pool and jump in to save them, but more recently I’ve been looking at the prospect of donating a kidney. I’ll keep you posted but at the moment I’m open to suggestions too.

How long do you plan to continue your campaign? Is there an end goal, or has it become a way of life?

100 Things is now a way of life. What started out as a very personal journey to pursue happiness has now turned into something far bigger than just me. I’ve found that this journey now acts as a positive catalyst for people to not only identify and achieve their own goals but to also connect with complete strangers to help them out. The stories are life changing for people around the world. I could not stop this journey if I tried and I’m now driven by the idea of helping people to help people. This will keep evolving for a long time to come and I couldn’t be more proud.

Do you ever see yourself having a regular office job?

I don’t think so. I have nothing against that type of vocation but I’ve found that my passion and purpose lie outside of an office job and I’d be a fool to pursue anything other than what I see as this style of living.

You said that you left university with large debts, confused about the future. Do you ever wonder if you should have gone to university at all?

Everyone is different and so university can be the most fantastic opportunity and career progression for one person or the complete opposite for another, ie like it was for me. I look back at my university degree though and see that it was a great catalyst for me to move in another direction. Sometimes we need to experience something of a less fulfilling nature so that we understand that we need to change. In this sense, university was great!

Do you think students can learn useful ‘life’ skills at university?

I think so yes. My belief is that you can learn life skills in everything you do. The key is being open minded. There’s no doubt that university offers many positive skills for life in general from hard work and dedication to socialising and managing pressure, but personally I would say that travel taught me many more life skills.

Your campaign has taken you to many countries, and you must have come across so many different nationalities and cultures. What have you learned from all your international experiences?

People are amazing. No matter where I’ve gone and what I’ve done, I’ve always seen the brilliance and good in people. From living on the streets of Sydney for one week to living with a Masaai Tribe on top of a volcano in Kenya, I’ve seen that human connection and respect makes the world spin more so than anything else that I’ve witnessed. I’ve seen generosity from people who have nothing and I’ve seen happiness in areas of war. A simple smile transcends any language barrier and I believe that everyone on the planet has an innate desire to help out a fellow human. People are brilliant.

What advice would you give to someone contemplating something out of the ordinary, ie a new challenge in their own life?

It all starts with understanding your values. Once we give ourselves permission to consider who we are on a primal level, we can use that realistion to create a meaningful dream/goal/list. Once that’s done we may find that a change is needed and often this seems confronting but with a full understanding of why we want to change, the decision to pull the trigger and achieve your goals becomes an easy one to make. Sometimes to swing from vine to vine we must at one point let go. Try it once and you’ll see that you’re capable of anything!