Rigor, mental and visualization: the keys to surpass yourself, according to Stéphanie Gicquel

Stéphanie Gicquel B&W

“The only limit to our goals is the one we give them. The rest is just an excuse. A fear maybe. ”
For ordinary people, the exploits and adventures she experiences are beyond comprehension. Extreme athlete, passionate about adventure sports, ultra-trail runner, Stéphanie Gicquel turns her initiatory experiences into odes to the living. Former lawyer, author and coach in business and in entrepreneurial networks, she tells us about her 2045 kilometers of breathtaking crossing of Antarctica. Meeting with the adventurer for whom nothing is insurmountable.

What moves you more than anything?

The adventure. We are all born adventurers. That's kind of my mantra, I believe in it a lot. Anyone can inspire me, I don't have an idol and I'm very curious. There are many people who achieve incredible things and do not necessarily realize it (whether it is an athletic, entrepreneurial, associative or personal journey). Being aware of this requires taking a step back, taking time, being in the reflection and not in the action, something not easy in our Western daily lives.

Yes, and this is often what is contradictory to our fast paced lives.

Yes, it is always possible to respond even faster, to work even faster. Yet it still takes as long as before to achieve your goals. We see it in sport: the body can adapt, but it has to be shaped. Nothing happens overnight.

How do you work on self-confidence?

Self-confidence is not innate, it is acquired over time, through experiences and reaching goals outside of your comfort zone. Now, when I'm struggling in high performance sport, I think about what I did when I crossed Antarctica. It gives me the strength and the confidence to continue. I encounter many moments of doubt, that is part of the adventure. You can have confidence in your ability to achieve a goal despite doubts about the path to reach it (timing, etc.). It’s not at all contradictory to me. In fact, you have to anticipate the risks. This allows you to better prepare and stay humble.

Is visualization a sine qua non for success?

The mind is capital. For me, it is impossible for an athlete to reach a podium without having imagined, visualized, dreamed of it. If so, then the challenge was not high enough or the physical potential much higher than the set challenge. In Antarctica, I walked between 8 and 16 hours a day. I went through complicated areas, with crevices, white fog. Sometimes I didn't have any landmark. Below -50 ° C. Visualization is the key. Positive visualization first, where you see yourself achieving the goal. And then the visualization of obstacles, such as pain, rain, contractures, stomach aches, which allows us to better accept them when we live them. You can't do anything in the face of the rain. You have to accept it. This technique helps to build confidence and determination, so as not to let obstacles win. Give up the difficulty is a waste of time and focus on the goal. I crossed Antarctica, 2,045 kilometers, in 74 days on ski touring. I was afraid. Afraid that the temperature would drop below -50 ° C, my equipment was light. I was scared because the cold is paralyzing and it is not possible to stay sedentary. I was scared when I ran out of food, afraid of the arrival of katabatic winds that can reach 320 km / h. I did not experience them, I had 80-90 km / h, which is the limit to continue walking. Short breaks, to eat or hydrate, necessarily take longer. I had barely enough time to shut down my equipment when I had to start again to generate heat in my body! Despite the hazards, visualization helps to anticipate risks and details.

Is the adventurer looking for risk?

No, the adventurer is not passionate about risk. He is believed to like risk, but most of all he loves what he does, his sport and the scenery. In Antarctica, there were three of us. Expeditions often take place between two to six people. I like human contact way too much to be alone on this type of adventure. And then, we must not forget that we still have the goal of living! When the objectives are extremely high, when the expedition is particularly engaged, it seems more relevant to form a team in order to be able to reach them.

You also now have a role of coach : what are the elements that allow you to achieve your goals and dreams?

I regularly intervene in business as an advisory role, in front of employees or clients, or at trade shows and certain general public events. I talk about the resources I was able to use to achieve my goals, especially in sports. The first thing is passion, envy. This is fundamental. Then, the strength of work thanks to the sense of effort. Too often, we highlight the results. But what about the path, the effort, the discipline? The sense of rigor will require the organization of an agenda. You need a long-term vision, which means being comfortable with the notion of passing time. And above all, do not try to achieve a goal overnight.

For which associations do you give your time?

2 years ago, I ran 7 marathons in 7 consecutive days. I took the opportunity to communicate and try to raise funds for the association Petits Princes, founded 30 years ago, which makes the dreams of sick children come true. Sometimes I intervene in schools to talk about Antarctica so that they themselves raise funds for the association. When I collaborate with eco-responsible brands, I highlight clothes that I use, relevant to my practice and respectful of the environment. The funds are fully donated to the association.

Do you believe in a better tomorrow?

I am optimistic, but I realize that it will take time to rethink our operating systems. The scale of the task is immense. As an explorer, I saw the wilderness. Antarctica has no human construction except at the South Pole. I make two observations. The first is positive. Mankind has been able to create, thanks to its intelligence, its collective spirit and the pooling of qualities, remarkable inventions (monuments, technologies). The second finding is more negative, linked to the world of overconsumption and excessive population densities. I think the human species is able to react and adapt, especially when we feel an emergency, pain, discomfort and we have seen that with containments. So there, yes, in these moments of instability, we are able to show resilience. Only, to be able to see it, you have to want it. Will we wait to be faced with an even more visible reality so that consciousnesses evolve profoundly and show resilience? Will it not be too late then? The ecological adventure is the greatest of all the adventures that mankind has ever faced.

Alexandra Corsi Chopin