We had the good fortune of connecting with Conor O’Shea and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Conor, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk is an essential and undervalued part of anyone’s life. It has played a major role in my life and has helped define the kind of person I strive to be. Most of the life changing decisions I’ve made in my life were based on risk and the acceptable amounts needed to achieve my goals. I’ve taken many risks in my life that have lead me to the place that I’m at today. The two biggest risks I’ve taken in my life were moving out to California in 2013 to become a whitewater rafting guide, and the other was when I moved from Colorado to Moab, Utah to pursue a career in the outdoor leadership field. I truly believe I would not be the person I am today without the risks I’ve taken.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My professional career starts with my first introduction into the outdoor industry. I moved out to California in the summer of 2012 to attend and hopefully become a whitewater rafting guide. I attended guide school and fortunately was eventually hired on as a staff member. That summer I learned so much about myself and the kind of person I wanted to become. I was introduced into the world of whitewater sports, and rock climbing. After that summer working I knew I was destined to come back. After returning home to New York I spent the next 2 semesters competing my coursework to complete my associates degree. During my last few weeks of school I was informed the rafting company I had worked for last summer was selling their business. I was totally shocked and bummed that my summer plans would be completely derailed. Luckily I did not let that stop me because I applied to several new companies and was eventually hired by one. After completing my degree I drove across country to California and made a significant stop in Fort Collins, Colorado along my way. Little did I know this would be the place I would call home for the next 7 years. After finishing another amazing summer guiding rivers in California I decided to move to Colorado in the pursuit of rock climbing and outdoor adventure. I spent my first few years building my outdoor resume by completing my wilderness first responder certification, and swift water rescue technician certification. I spent my days outside rock climbing and attempting to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I eventually decided to apply to the Colorado Outward Bound School in the hopes of becoming an outdoor instructor. After a few weeks of interviews and waiting I was accepted to the program and was offered an opportunity to come to the training in Moab, Utah. This was literally a dream come true for me and I jumped on the chance to become and outdoor instructor. It felt like every challenge and obstacle in my life I had accomplished had lead me to this moment. I spent the next few years working as an outdoor instructor of Outward Bound. Taking students whitewater rafting, backpacking, canyoneering, and rock climbing. I then reached a turning point in my life where I felt that I needed to pursue a career that was more financially feasible so I decided to move back to Fort Collins to hopefully find a new job. This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life. Sometimes I still wonder if I made the right decision. After a few weeks of pursuing job opportunities I eventually was offered a position to be a direct care provider for an agency that supports adults with disabilities. While this was vastly different from my last job I’ve found that my true calling is working with people and supporting them in their daily lives. I’ve been able to take my life lessons and outdoor teaching and apply them into the different facets of my new career in the hope they can benefit anyone. I love my career and the path I took to get here is one I will never forget.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them into Rocky Mountain National Park to showcase the beauty of Colorado. We would hike and camp in the park and spend our days exploring all of the beauty that this state has to offer. Colorado truly is an incredible place, and despite the fact that I no longer work professionally in the outdoors I still down the majority of my time outside. There is so much to do in this place so I think it is unfair to just pick one place or spot to explore. The San Juan Mountains are still probably one of my favorite places to explore in Colorado and would definitely recommend them to anyone coming to this stage for the first time.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my Grandfather William Cross, Aka “Bill”. I truly believe I would not be the person I am today without the positive influence and encouragement he had given me in my life. He has been a father figure to me, mentor, teacher, and much more. Bill was one of the first people to introduce me into the outdoors and show me all the positive benefits it can have on someone’s life. He took my on my first overnight backpacking and canoe trips and those are some of my fondest memories. They impacted me on some many ways that I did not realize until I was much older how profound they would affect me.
Facebook: Conor O’Shea