How do you deal with the unknown?
Overthink, over-prepare, imagine all the (disastrous) possibilities, procrastinate and still go into the situation reluctantly and scared?
Or do you approach it with an open mind, excited by the opportunity, possibility and potential?
I confess, I often tend towards the former 🙂
But I suspect if you were part of the first team to row a fours boat across the world’s largest ocean, you would only sign up for such an adventure if you did the latter!
(And, just quietly, I think it’s a spirit we should all - myself included - try to include a little more in our everyday life).
Natalia Cohen was a member of that team, the Coxless Crew, who in 2016 rowed across the Pacific Ocean, unassisted, in an incredible journey that took 257 days (or 9 months) at sea.
Interestingly, no-one in the team had any experience in ocean-rowing as they rowed out of San Francisco harbour, under the Golden Gate Bridge, at the start of their journey.
The journey has now been documented in the film, Losing Sight of Shore, which is available on Netflix.
In this conversation, Natalia and I discuss:
* how extensive travelling over the years gave her an appreciation for, and the ability to deal with, uncertain situations,
* why she decided to apply to join the team,
* her surprising experience with the Imposter Complex since returning from her journey,
* how she used mindfulness to deal with self-doubt and fear,
* why it’s important to look for the positives in any situation, and
* how breaking down one shift into 5 minute blocks helped her get through one of the most challenging days at sea.
Some of my favourite quotes from this episode include:
We are such ordinary women yet we managed to accomplish something so extraordinary…hopefully [it has] given a huge insight to everyone out there that we can do anything we set our mind to.
I wasn’t afraid of that unknown. I actually embraced it.
Self-doubt is something we all struggle with day in and day out. It comes and goes. It’s a constant battle….I really tried to push it aside as much as possible and just kept this strong belief to keep us going.
It’s only when you slip out of the moment and you’re thinking about the future…or you’re thinking about something that happened in the past, that’s the time where you allow all of those thoughts and self-doubt and inner critic to rush in and to take over and you give it power. Whereas when you bring yourself back to the moment, you’re so busy concentrating on whatever it is you’re concentrating on…you can’t be concerned with anything else because you’re 100% focused.
I just reversed the mantra from “I can’t do it, I can’t do it” into “I can do it, I can do it” and I carried on rowing. I broke everything down and for me, that was a big part of getting through the 257 days because it was such an immense time…breaking everything down into these more manageable size chunks. For me, that made everything seem a lot more possible.
Sometimes some of the hardest times ended up being the most beautiful and magical.
There’s lots of time in life where you do have to start again and you do have to go back to the drawing board, whether it’s in your personal life or it’s in your professional life. It’s not really the situations that matter so much is it? It is how you pick yourself up and how you carry on that’s really important. The lessons that we learned from all of those setbacks will always make us stronger and help us grow and develop as people.
[The biggest lesson was] not being afraid of the unknown and not being afraid to take that leap of faith. I think life is filled with so much opportunity and experience and everything we do helps us learn and grow as people.
Notes and resources:
To find out more about the documentary Losing Sight of Shore or to watch the trailer, visit the website here.