My Outward Bound story.

My Outward Bound story.

The best educational experience I’ve had.

By Jacob Mataiti.

Jacob Headshot

Jacob Mataiti.

Outward Bound Classic 692     |     Hillary Watch     |     2-22 August 2022.

Before going to Outward Bound, my physical abilities had been my way to succeed. I’d trained as a barber and as a Muay Thai fighter, but an injury had shown me I’d become complacent with relying only on my physical strength. I needed to learn how to approach life in a better way, so I’d feel both physically and mentally capable to tackle anything.


“I knew I had more in me but was unsure how to access it.”

In several areas of my life, I’ve assumed a role of helping others - family, co-workers, clients and those I coach at the gym. I’ve approached this by leading by example, transferring my skills to others and giving support through my own abilities. At times I’ve felt the accountability for others like a weight on my shoulders.

On the course, I learned a new way of being there for people. As well as how to empathise constructively, instead of absorbing their experience or pain. Helping others became less about my capabilities and more about guiding others to feel empowered by theirs.

I focused on lifting the energy of an environment by boosting people’s morale and self-belief. I’d quote to my group ‘tough times never last, only tough people last’. I understand now that strength doesn’t just come from physical ability.

Jacob's Watch

“To be ‘tough’ is to be mentally and emotionally resilient and to back yourself.”

As a Polynesian growing up, I forced myself to be in-authentic in order to be accepted. I moulded myself to fit social environments, to be like others and pushed down my point of difference. The course helped me realise that when I fight my authenticity the decisions I make are for someone else’s interests and not my own.

Starting the course requires you to leave behind any contact to the outside world – no phones, no internet, no comfort of what’s familiar. Being with new people who don’t know the social roles you normally assume leads you to access new parts of your personality and try on new ways of being. When you strip away the social constructions that we all conform to, it’s really evident that you’re not being yourself. For the first time, I let go of my persona and the mask I put up.

“Doing so showed me that I’m an emotional guy.”


There’s more to me than my physical abilities, the strengths of my personality are the way I think, feel, and understand those around me. I value true human connection and I care deeply about encouraging people to be themselves. By embracing my own uniqueness, it was easier to admire that in others.

“Unity in diversity.”


The diversity of the group exposed me to ideas and opinions that are vastly different to my own. Instead of trying to convince people to think or act like I do, I practiced being receptive to difference. I realised that there’s power in knowing when to speak and when to listen. It’s not about being right or even understood, it’s about being heard. The real strength comes when everyone feels valued for being themselves.

Outward Bound was a transformational experience. The course showed me that fulfilment comes from knowing who you are and allowing others to see that in themselves as well. I’ve returned head strong, confident in who I am and determined to live in a way that best serves me.