When I set out across the Atlantic, I had a naïve vision that it would be a wonderful, serene, meditative experience. Influenced by the writings of Henry David Thoreau, I imagined that this would be my watery Walden, an opportunity for insight and enlightenment, a kind of retreat at sea.

How very wrong I was. The weather was appalling, much worse than in a typical Atlantic year, and it rapidly took a toll on my boat and on my body.

adam-osborne-author-quote-the-most-valuable-thing-you-can-make-is-aWorse still, I had wanted this to be a perfect experience – or, to be more accurate, I had wanted to be the perfect ocean rower. I thought I was so well-prepared, and yet here I was, alone, in pain, struggling and doubtful, and that gap between the vision and the reality created enormous disappointment and frustration.

One day I noticed that I was carrying a huge burden of thwarted hopes, and that the pressure it was creating was completely self-imposed. Immediately I stopped caring about whether I was doing this rowing thing “the right way” or not. I stopped minding that it wasn’t perfect. Yes, I admitted to myself – ocean rowing sucks. And the way I’m doing it may be the right way or the wrong way, but at least it’s my way.

When I look back over my life, I can see times when I held back from doing something in case I didn’t do it “right”, because I wanted to be “perfect”. Now I’m older and hopefully wiser, I don’t really care all that much. I’d rather go ahead and do something, even if I do it badly, and then learn from the experience and try again. Trying to be perfect straight out of the blocks is simply unrealistic.

13683-being-unique-is-better-than-being-perfectAs an aside, I’m a fan of Carol Dweck and her work on fixed mindset vs growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, you might believe you’re a genius, but if you ever run into evidence that undermines that belief, you crumble. If you have a growth mindset, your belief will be something more like, “I believe I have the ability to learn from my mistakes and do better the next time around.” I’m sure you can see which mindset is going to serve you better in the long run. Check out her TED talk to find out more.


Other Stuff:

I’m going to be speaking at the National CSR Awards in London on 12th May, and will be signing books afterwards. I would love to see you there! You can receive a 50% discount on the usual ticket price by entering “CSR50” at checkout. It promises to be a glittering event, at London’s coolest and most sustainable venue, The Crystal. Please spread the word!

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    • Thanks, Kate! It was so great to see you in Boston the other week, and to catch up on what you’re doing in diversity. Keep up the great work!

  • Your right I have just completed surgery on both legs. Not to long ago I was a ultra marathon runner Lake Tahoe 72 miles three times many 50 milers plus 100 marathons always thought my legs were my strength seem to find out my legs are my problem. Hard to not run the hills now im trying to better my walk. Expand on what you can do Its not what I want but the walking can still get me there just at a slower pace. When you were at sea and feeling defeated do it your way with what you have the hell of being perfect.

    • Well done, Robert, on keeping a positive attitude as you transform into the next version of yourself. It may not be the same as the old version, but I’m sure there will be upsides. As it seems you have already discovered, it’s all about accepting what is, rather than wishing for what used to be. Good luck!

  • Hi Roz,

    When I fail in something,I say to myself next time I will do better. Because I will be accustomed to the road and the obstacles I will face on that road . That will help me to stay on the route and prevent to turn into unwanted side roads which won’t led me to such good places.

    Thank you again for refreshing weekly blogs .
    Akif Kıral

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