In the first of a new series of blog posts, I’m going to share a dozen or so lessons I learned on the ocean, that still serve me well on dry land. Some may be familiar to those of you who have read my books or have been to my talks, but if you’re anything like me, I need to be reminded at regular intervals that I know the things that I know. I also find that a message will resonate quite differently the second time around than it did the first time, depending on what is going on in my life. So I trust that you will find these useful, as you tackle whatever challenges are going on in your life.
There were many times when I was out on the ocean – particularly on the Atlantic, the first and toughest voyage – when I would have happily (or miserably) quit. There was a huge gap between who I was and the person I needed to be to do what I was attempting to do, and that became a cause of daily struggle.
I got a great piece of advice from sailor Adrian Flanagan, who at the time was completing a vertical circumnavigation of the world via the polar regions:
“When you come to look back on it, the voyage will seem to have been over very quickly. Remember, it doesn’t have to be fun to be fun. And it will have been fun once you are among the elite few who have single-handedly rowed an ocean.”
So often we give in to the emotion of the moment. When we get tired, or stressed, or doubtful, or when it all seems more trouble than it’s worth, we give up.
The problem here is that we are taking an easy short-term decision (to alleviate our negative emotion) that generates a difficult long-term decision (to give up on our dreams).
You may think that, of course, you would never make a decision to give up on your dreams, but when you make a series of short-term decisions that lead inevitably to a long-term outcome, you are making that decision as surely as if you announced to yourself, “I hereby surrender my dreams of a better life”.
When I realise I am getting caught up in my negative self-talk, I take a moment to pause the track, and ask myself:
“What will make the Future Me proud of the Present Me, and the way that I conducted myself right now?”
I call this the Retrospective Perspective. Try it – it really helps.
What can you do today that will make the Future You proud?