The scale of fun

There is a ‘Scale of Fun’ that is often talked about by adventure sports and outdoors enthusiasts. Activities of various degrees of peril and toughness are graded as Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3 fun.


Fieri instructor Sandy Hennis during her training to man haul to the South Pole. Definitely Type 3 fun!

At the heart of this is an understanding that the harder you push yourself, the more risk you are prepared to take, the better the results and the greater the feeling of achievement you will gain. The flip-side is that the cost and chances of failure are also far higher the further you push and the more risk you take.


I cannot think of a greater analogy than this for different approaches to leadership. There are those that are willing to go that little bit further and push that little bit harder to achieve more, whilst others will be happy to play it safe.


In the adventure community, just as in business, poor planning and rash decisions will see you end up in trouble; but taking calculated risks and possessing the ability to go that little bit further than your competition might just take you to the next level.


Types of Fun

So here is Fieri’s take on the three types of fun:


Type 1 fun is any activity that feels rewarding at the time but requires little if any effort. Type 1 fun is easy to get and does not involve any hardship. It is forgettable. This might be drinking beer, skiing downhill or having sex. It is easy fun.


Type 2 fun hurts at the time but you feel good about the experience in retrospect. You have to put effort in and grimace. You may get blisters or other physical injuries. However, the pain and effort is short lived and you will soon be back from whatever it is you’ve been doing and feel better for putting in the effort. Type 2 fun may include a long run, cross-country skiing, a tough game of rugby or an Alpine climb.


Those who pursue Type 3 fun have an intrinsic need to push themselves to the limit. From man hauling to the South Pole to rowing the Pacific to climbing Mount Everest. Type 3 fun involves considerable peril and threat to life. It is never pleasant and the pain and hardship is enduring. It requires extreme mental toughness. If you survive, the thought of the pursuit will always leave you shuddering, but the pay-off is a feeling of accomplishment, of confidence in what you can achieve, and in the knowledge that you have proved that you have something that many don’t – physical courage and mental toughness and have achieved a feat few will follow. You also may not be quite sane.


Types of Fun and Leaders

There may be a link between the type of fun you pursue, and the type of leader you are.


Let’s look at the Type 1 Leader. They may have been gifted an opportunity to lead without having to ‘go hunting’ too hard or have drifted into leadership. They are more than happy with a low risk versus reward ratio. They are comfortable and do not want to work harder or take greater risks to try and achieve more. They want an easy ride at work. They will do what they need to and not a lot more. These are probably largely your Transactional Leaders.


The Type 2 Leader wants to push the boat a bit, but there will be limits. They will take calculated risks, but will still want security to a certain extent. There are limits to how far they will go to achieve their aims, but they will put in short bursts of energy or take risks in some area to achieve their aims. Type 2 Leadership loosely corresponds to Transformational Leadership.


The Type 3 Leader will stop at nothing to achieve the goals that they have set. They will endure great personal hardship over a long period of time and not lose focus. Tenacity and vision abound and the goals they set are audacious. They are likely to be not only a Transformational Leader but also an Inspirational Leader.


So recruiters and HR departments take notice – if you really want inspirational leaders in your organisation, maybe the number of photos of mountains or polar landscapes on a candidate’s social media profile is the best indicator as to whether they have the tenacity and risk-appetite to truly make a difference. On the other hand, those that pursue Type 3 fun are probably too busy climbing mountains or rowing oceans to work for any organisation. If they were, they would be far more suited to an entrepreneurial role.