One thing is for sure. There are things that happen to us that we would never choose for ourselves. Be it the death of a parent, a miscarriage or extreme money worries. The list is long. Just ask Debra Searle, the 5ft 4″ woman whose 6ft 5″ husband left her in the middle of the Atlantic.
Here’s her story. They had planned to row from Tenerife to Port Charles, Barbados together. In actual fact she spent 3 1/2 months alone in a rowing boat. Alone with sharks, whales, hurricanes, 30 foot waves and the odd super tanker coming perilously close to ploughing down her 23 foot plywood rowing boat. Her daily schedule consisted of rowing for 2 hours, resting for 1 hour and then rowing for 2 hours. Rinse and repeat.
In any 1 hour of rest, she would only be able to sleep a maximum of 25 minutes. In such situations, she needed an effective strategy to cope. One strong enough to cope with rowing 20 miles over 3 days only to hit a headwind overnight that pushes her back 30 miles.
I love Debra’s strategy for coping. One I want to use more in my own life and maybe you in yours. It’s simple yet very powerful. She says we need to grasp the opportunity to choose our attitude.
I recommend you watch Debra Searle’s TedxSalford presentation titled “Choose Your Attitude” for more detailed information.
For Debra she reminded herself of this simple fact by posting the words:
“Choose Your Attitude”
right in front of her as she rowed through gale force 8 storms.
This sign with these 3 words on it acted as a trigger, one that would remind her, in that moment, to choose her attitude.
Each day she would choose a positive attitude, for example, to be optimistic, and then list all of the reasons why she had to be more optimistic. Negative attitudes were banned from the boat.
A positive reason might the fact she may row more miles today than any previous one. Another may be it’s likely she will see some amazing marine wildlife she hadn’t seen before. This strategy of making herself choose her attitude worked. Debra spent 111 days at sea, becoming the youngest and only the third woman in the world to have rowed an ocean solo.
Since successfully arriving in Port Charles on 21st January 2002 Debra has had to find other triggers to remind her to choose her own attitude. For example, the sound of her car key fob is a practical trigger. It makes her ask the question and give herself reasons to carry on and succeed.
So having heard this amazing story I ask myself what trigger can I use to help me choose my attitude on a daily basis. One to help me face changes I would never choose for myself.
I truly believe we can succeed with the right attitude.