On the ocean, there would be times when I rowed like a women possessed just to stay in the same place. And other days when the winds and currents whisked me along at such a satisfying speed that it was hardly worth bothering to row.

It used to drive me crazy that the results were so rarely proportionate to the effort, but then I realised that most of life is like that.

successHave you ever slogged away at a task, wondering why it feels like rolling a rock up a mountain? Have you wondered if it is “meant to be”, because it seems you’re having to fight just too hard to make it happen? And yet you really believe it’s right?

And then, suddenly, everything flows. Everything you’ve worked for drops into your lap. You have a real red letter day. After years of work you become an overnight success.

And you realise, looking back, that all the slog was worthwhile. You had to pay your dues, persevere, keep on going when the going got tough. All the struggle, in hindsight, makes sense.

Sometimes we’re rowing against the current, and it feels like we’re getting nowhere, but even though we’re not covering the miles we’re getting physically and mentally stronger, bringing ourselves to peak condition so that when the opportunity arises, we’re ready to surge ahead.

Breakthrough_noSunOther times, all the factors are in our favour. Winds and currents align, and we zip along at a high rate of knots, almost effortlessly.

Even when you look back through history, many of the most dramatic breakthroughs did not come out of the blue, but were the culmination of years – even decades – of effort. The falling of the Berlin Wall, the freeing of Nelson Mandela, the ending of slavery, the invention of the lightbulb, or the theory of relativity, or the theory of radioactivity, or any other significant historic event – all of these took sustained, long-term effort and unbelievable perseverance.

The point is to know that progress is not linear. Short-term success and short-term setbacks are often due to forces beyond our control. So don’t get too proud of the success, or too despondent about the setbacks.

Simply trust that patience, persistence, and perseverance will win out in the end.


“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill


P.S. And sometimes you have to row sideways to get forwards.


P.P.S. And often courage looks like no more than showing up, day after day, and keeping on sticking your oars in the water.


Other Stuff:

Terribly sorry to hear about the loss of 21-year-old Michael Johnson, who was a member of an 8-person crew attempting to row the Atlantic. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and crewmates.




  • Roz,

    I have been following you for at least 7 years now (time slips by so fast) and this is a beautiful post. There is so much value in this one post about life and success and tenacity. This one might get printed out and posted on my office wall.

    As a pilot of aircraft we have very similar situations in the air. You are going to face headwinds occasionally. Thankfully there are few times you are faced with literally going backwards in the air with a super strong headwind. On those days I try to find an appropriate destination to visit downwind as you will get their very quickly when the opposite direction you are facing a massive headwind.

    As far as getting to your goals, with the boat analogy in mind, you need to find that eddy in the current. Wait until the massive tide of water or headwind subsides. Instead of finding a safe harbor and just sitting their, find something to be productive while waiting it out. Like cleaning barnacles off of your hull, so that when the winds and tides are more favorable, you can go even faster. Maybe let some sores on your backside heal for a day or two. Use those times of waiting to build up another capability improving yourself for when you can make way.

    Have a great day Roz, Just keep rowing, just keep rowing, just keep rowing. And thanks again for the solid advice.

    Steve Teffenhardt
    Pure Moxie du Jour http://www.pmdj.com
    Motivational Quotes, for Motivated People

    • Glad you liked it, Steve. I’ve heard that planes are off course 99% of the time, i.e. they are constantly course-correcting. I love that metaphor too.

  • Such a true post. I am in the thick of it now….and your post just reminds me sometimes floating on the waves gives you the direction you need.

    Thanks Roz your posts make a difference in my life.

    • You’re so very welcome, Barb. I’m glad it was timely. Stay afloat, and I hope that wave carries you through the thick of it and into calmer waters.

  • Hi Roz,

    I appreciate this last piece you wrote about “progress is not linear”. I heartily agree that is true in life and especially with the ocean when it comes to channel crossings. I am an outrigger canoe paddler and have been training for the Maui to Molokai crossing race as a solo racer. I feel this is race will tap into that “cumulation of years of effort” to prepare for such an endeavor.

    I have been both working and playing in the great outdoors for over 30 years as a professional instructor, guide and director for various adventure based programs including Outward Bound. Much of my work and study has focused on outdoor programming that empower girls and women. From an ocean sailing family, I discovered white water kayaking in high school and have evolved as paddler since then. In recent years, I have taken on a new challenge by competing in long distance paddle adventure races, namely the Cal 100, a hundred mile river race, placing 1st, twice, in my division as a sea kayaker. I am an avid sea kayaker but my latest passion has been paddling and racing outrigger canoes. Endurance races may sound challenge enough but for me, but there is another layer. I have been coping with and living with Rheumatoid arthritis as an athlete for most of my adult life (over 30 years). This is where “progress” has been a journey with its twisting and winding of life’s surprises. I have continued to seek my dreams with “patience, persistence and perseverance” knowing that this practice will win at the end.

    I loved your Happiness post and watched the film! Thank you for your inspiration! I have posted my gofundme Hawaii race fundraiser. Please support my race goal! Thank you.

    • Very best of luck with the Maui-Molokai race, Priscilla! I have some friends who have done it, and it seems like an amazing experience. And good for you – not letting rheumatoid arthritis stand in your way. You are a true inspiration.

      Maybe you’d like to share the link to your fundraiser so people can find it easily?

      • Here is the link to my fundraising campaign. Please consider a small donation to assist with race expenses. Your support is appreciated! Thank you.

        Click here for more information: gofund.me/qxpqf6gk

  • I don’t want to write a comment about this post.Because Success can’t be described even better.Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.But I would like to write only this:
    Maybe we must rename ” difficulties” .We may call them “helpers in the future”.

    PS:I feel very close to the people who write comments.

  • Another fine post, Roz. It reminds me of a fine human being I once had the honor of working with. Many years before, he and his wife had lost one of their three sons…he was murdered at the age of 18. At the time I worked as an assistant to him, I was going through a terrible time in my own life, with a substance addicted spouse, heading toward a divorce, maintaining my home with three children and holding down my job. One day after a particularly trying morning getting out the door to work, seeing my frustration, he said, “C’mon, let’s walk…” and took me out for about a half hour at a brisk pace. Never judging or lecturing, just providing a ‘breath’ in difficult times when the end results were painfully uncertain on many levels. One thing he said that sticks with me today and reminds me of your post was (in his heavy British accent) “Life ain’t in neat little boxes, love” – an endearing term used with many friends. I often wondered how he carried on given the challenge of losing his son in such a way. Still today, when the events of a day or circumstance seems ‘unrewarding’, at least, I recall that comment and remember to dial down my expectation to ‘real’-ness, to stay in the moment, to listen more, to be grateful, to make the good effort. Best to you – keep up your good works.

  • , I write about my kids sometimes, I just happen to write about a whole other bunch of stuff too What I like about you, and I hope what people will learn to like about me, is personality. For me, that is what is key about a blog – regardless of subject matter. If a pe1r#n&o82s7;s personality connects, I’m in! (whether they like it or not!

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