Over the next few weeks I will be writing extracts from my book ‘The Eighth Summit’ . My aim is to inspire you to seek out the extra-ordinary, to have great vision and to live a purpose filled life.
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
– Sir Edmund Hillary
Imagine a scene.
You are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in a 21-foot rowing boat. Just you. There are at least 2,700 kilometres of water stretching into the distance on all sides and you could not be more alone.
You have not seen another human being in weeks. You are tired. Your hands are calloused and raw. Your bottom has developed pressure sores on both sides. You have salt sores right where the sun doesn’t shine. And, to top it all, you’re in a storm with your parachute anchor deployed, a desperate measure to stabilise your puny vessel amid massive ocean swells and battering winds.
It’s raining hard and waves are breaking over the boat. You are being tossed around like a cork in a rapid. You are doing your best to lie still in your cabin, which is the size of a coffin – or maybe just a bit bigger. Either way, it feels very much like a coffin to you right now, and the ocean depths beneath you may well be your grave. You really don’t know whether you will survive this storm or if the Atlantic will refuse to spit you out on the other side.
Then you notice the laminated print-outs stuck to the roof of the cabin. Some are messages from your wife and pictures of her and your beautiful daughter; others are motivational quotes. One of them catches your attention and it gets you thinking.
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
– Mohammed Ali
I don’t have to imagine this scene; I can vividly recall it. It was 2010, and I was participating in the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race, an unsupported rowing race that covers nearly 5,500 kilometres from the Canary Islands in the east to Antigua Island in the west. The storm in question lasted six days…
The moment described above was, of course, one of great doubt for me – but it was eventually one of great clarity.
Can we really overcome the impossible? Really? Anybody? How do we surmount great obstacles when the odds seem so heavily stacked against us? How do we achieve feats – in all areas of life – when the likelihood of success seems so distant?
I found the answer to all those questions in that moment in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
……. more to come over the next few weeks.