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Uncomfortable is OK Podcast

Making it easier for you to get out of your comfort zone.

Chris Desmond explores the science, the stories, and the strategies of getting out of your comfort zone and finding your magic.

Apr 6, 2018

Clive Neeson is the guest on Episode 72 of the “Uncomfortable is OK” podcast. He is also the director of the widely acclaimed film “Last Paradise

Clive grew up on safari in East Africa as his parents filmed wild animals during the 1950’s. In New Zealand and Australia, he joined a group of young mavericks who would become the pioneers of today’s extreme sports. Clive studied for 6 years under pioneering physicist and disciple of Ernest Rutherford, Professor Bruce Liley graduating with Masters degree in physics and electronic engineering. Clive worked for 30 years as an international expert in hi-tech innovation and energy projects from Silicon Valley to the Middle East. From the first digital climate monitoring system to nation-wide control systems for power generation, many were “world-firsts”, requiring deep mastery of physics and hardware/software. From inside the silicon chip to total systems design.

Living a double life between extreme sports madmen and the entrepreneurial hi-tech world, Clive filmed the journey from experimental beginnings, building his own filming technology on the side to get a closer perspective of action sports, the innovative spirit and the unique beauty of extreme New Zealand, Australia and the world.

Discovering how to play without rules

When Clive moved to New Zealand when he was young he admits he found it difficult to fit into the Kiwi way of life of school and sports. He reverted back to what he knew, which was exploring the wilderness and with his group of mates. It was here that they taught themselves how to play, rather than learning how to play through sport or within the rules of society. Learning how to play and explore in this manner stood Clive in good stead later in life. It forced him to develop his problem solving skills and allowed his thought processes and perspectives to develop in a way that wasn’t constrained by an arbitrary set of rules. This has helped him live an exploratory, adventurous life that is quite different to how the majority of society lives today. “What it gave me psychologically was this belief that you can invent anything. Just because everyone does it that way doesn’t mean that you need to. As long as you know the ground rules principles you can rethink the pathway and go out there on your own.”

Creating a powerful story

Growing up Clive remembers seeing a John Wayne film being shot in Africa. He was very impressed with the equipment that was being used but felt the actual filming and process itself was quite boring. It wasn’t until he moved to New Zealand that he saw the film and was astounded that the process that had appeared so boring to him had been transformed into something so impressive and dangerous on the big screen. He began to understand how the power of story could capture the audience and create a feeling and a reality that was an amplified version of what was going on.

Creating a different path for his life

“I’m going to come from this angle and carve out this path” It was from his love of adventure and exploration coupled with his passion for filming and science that drew Clive to documenting the adventures of him and his friends as they pioneered some of the adventure sports in New Zealand. They explored the limits, explored the wilderness, and explored themselves. Whether that was putting a camera on the front of a surfboard and showing people what a tube looked like from the inside, or strapping one to a hanglider and soaring above glaciers. No one was doing this at the time but Clive was able to couple many of his curiosities together and create a completely different path to do things.

Where we are going wrong — and how to start changing it

“A lot of people are being told to live like battery-hens” Over the years Clive has seen society change, people have moved to the city, freedom of speech has changed, and kids are now wrapped in cotton wool to name but a few. People have become less connected to their communities, and as a result their sense of worth and identity of belonging to a culture has gone. People have become lonelier, and have reduced sense of wellbeing and happiness. We’ve allowed societal norms to come in and tell us how to live and it hasn’t done us any favours. You develop cabin fever — if you can’t get out you don’t perform well, but you also have something building up inside you than makes you feel like you want to explode. Clive’s advice is we need to get excited about life. We need to get out and explore things we are curious about, we need to get back out and adventure in nature. It’s so hard to change the way we think and operate if we are constantly immersed in the noise of society. “Innovation isn’t just technological. Innovation about looking at life and saying, what can it possibly be? And going out and believing that you can find a way to do it.”

Listen to the full episode here.