40 Days, two men and one boat
40 days in a boat, two hours on, two hours off, with one other person (who you've only met three weeks previously), crossing the middle of the Atlantic Ocean - sounds like fun, right?How did I end up in a 5,000km ocean rowing race when my previous rowing experience consisted of 5kms against Oxford and Cambridge Universities? Other than rowing for New Zealand on the Waikato River my only claim to fame was holding a record for eating a can of Watties ‘Big Eat', in 3.2 seconds.
Is it a Kiwi thing to challenge ourselves in the most extreme way possible? Kiwis had done it before, and in fact other Kiwis were doing it in this race too. Or is it a personality trait that thinks lack of sleep, warm bed and cooked meals while enduring intense conditions is a great way to see the world... or rather a whole lot of water? Either way when offered the opportunity three weeks out from the race start I said yes.
The 2003 challenge was exactly that, a challenge - of epic proportions.
Day one was brilliant, day two was the worst. Strong winds meant no one was rowing anywhere. Every crew would have had the same discussion, "drop anchor or keep rowing?" We had found ourselves in a rowing race, so we chose rowing. For 42 hours we made no progress, moving less than half a mile across the ocean.
30 miles was the lead we gained on day two. In theory we didn't row 30 miles, it's just that the other teams dropped anchor, resulting in a backwards drag. Our support crew's messages that day steered us on for the rest of the race, "whatever you've been doing, keep doing it".
30 miles was the distance we won the race by. Sticking to our strategy, thinking, communication and attitude worked for the race and it works in business. Sometimes when you think you are making the least progress, you are making the most. Success is the result of stretching ourselves, thinking through options analytically, backing our judgment, adapting our processes and believing in our ability.
Whether it's seeing lights on a horizon beckoning you to the finish line, or a business buzzing with enthused staff and increased sales, the awe of achieving your objectives is a journey everyone should take.