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Reflection on our North Sea Express journey

Seven months ago we started our journey from Amsterdam to Oslo. However, it still feels like yesterday. The last couple of months have been filled with positive comments and feedback related to our project. The North Sea Express became a lot bigger than what we thought it would be. It gained a lot of attention from family, friends and other enthusiasts from around the world. Without this support we would have never been able to create the impact we have managed to create. We are ever grateful for all the assistance we received from people we met during our journey as well! We remember them as everyday heroes. Aside from reaching many of our personal goals we were left with multiple thoughts afterwards. A lot of reflection was done and we thought it was worth sharing some of these thoughts with you.

First, it’s all about people. It always is. Every euro funded. Every meter cycled. Every bed provided. Every meal prepared. People did all of it. That sounds like the biggest cliché ever, indeed, however it’s ironic how we seem to forget that we, the people, can create change in this world. That people have power. That people means impact. We cause things to happen all the time, both negative and positive.

Want to hear another cliché? Everyone makes a difference. My apologies. Everyone CAN make a difference if they decide they want to. They can make a difference for themselves, for the people closest to them, for their community or for the world. Micro changes are still changes. It still makes up a part of the total equation. They are not insignificant. Whether it is a cliché or a functioning motivational construct does not matter, does it? This was surely one of the thoughts that kept us biking at least. Thinking that our ability to make change in the world with ourselves as tools, while inspiring others, was the underlying motivation that started this journey. Along our journey we met people who proved that every day we wake up with a choice. A choice between making something happen or not.

In addition to that, being able to do this together with another person and with the support of a community was a great motivation and more importantly, it created even greater impact. More people, more impact, remember?

This is not supposed to be that life changing blog post that goes viral around the globe. The motivation behind this post is to simply share our reflections and hopefully bring a stronger awareness towards the thought that we can all make a difference in our own worlds.

Because your actions count. Your actions do have an impact. Sitting on a bike for eight hours daily, for a week straight, gives you are sore ass, but it also gives you a lot of time to think and reflect. Many of us don’t take the time to reflect. Neither about our lives or the effect our actions can have. This is a naive attitude that we are all victims of, the same way our planet has been the victim of our actions for centuries. Without reflection and the belief that our actions count we remove all potential ownership. Our intentions might be good, but our naive attitude makes things backfire. Maybe that’s why we found ourselves in such a complex, climatic situation these day (?)

We biked from Amsterdam to Oslo to show that there are alternative ways of getting around, so we obviously believe that flying has a negative effect on the environment. However, we also wanted to showcase something deeper. We also wanted to showcase a different way of thinking about our actions. A way of thinking that believes that if we can have a negative impact, then there must be a positive alternative. Like biking.

Furthermore, we don’t believe it makes a difference on what side of this thought process we start, as long as we start taking ownership of our actions, and yes, it starts with us. The people. Believing that we can make a positive change, while understanding that our actions can have a negative effect as well.

The second thing we wanted to share is related to failure. Something always goes wrong. Whether you are making breakfast, biking 1450 km or reading a book. You spill, you get a puncture, or you don’t remember anything from what you read.

So, what is the point? No matter what we do, shit will break, get lost or look bad. When you try to change something, or have some sort of wish to create impact you need to get your hands dirty at some point. You need to do the legwork. This also provides you with an opportunity to meet with failure. Dealing with failure has also become such a cliché topic. We have all heard about it: “no pain, no gain”. “It’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and still keeping moving”. “Failures are important life lessons”. Bla, bla, bla.

However, maybe a more interesting question is how we define failure. If we can take ownership of our actions, then we should be able to change the way we think about failure. Usually we define failure in our own minds. Unaware of the heavy influence our surroundings have one us. What are we trying to get at here? During our journey we realised that failure is more about how you react to situations that stops a process from moving than anything else.

The word failure is a term that describes a situation in a very definite way. It sounds like there is no more. It’s a failure, fullstop. However, our lives are dynamic, moving and constantly changing, providing us with the opportunity to try again and improve. We can move from being reactive to being proactive. We can prepare for how we set ourselves up when we face failure. A bump in the road or a dent in a frame can both mean failure, but they also provide us with the opportunity to do things differently. Next time, we encourage you to approach failure form a different angle.

So it’s not about defining what failure isn’t or is. It is about developing an understanding of what a process entails and how every bad thing that happens provides you with an opportunity to do something better next time. The same way an entrepreneurial process is about pivots and iterations.

At last we would like to leave you with some food for thought. Being able to communicate in an honest and open way is key in order to sustain and nurture the relationships around you. We were both victims of poor communication during our journey and the energy turns sour on a non–visible level if you simply “leave things”.

A level of sourness appears, that causes negative emotions to spread internally because things were never talked about. Suppressing these feelings and thoughts inhibits our development on a personal and professional level. It can be dangerous, especially when we are trying to create momentum together with someone else. It takes up space that could have been given to the creative part of your brain. So we also encourage you to talk to each other. Please, talk!

Now, these thoughts are pure in-action and post reflections, so feel free to discuss them with us if you’d like. Finally, a question that remains unanswered is whether or not there will be a North Sea Express in 2019 (?) We cannot say too much atm. However, chances are high that you will see us again soon, and you might even be competing against us….

To be continued.

By The North Sea Express.


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