“Wow, that’s incredible!” is the phrase I most commonly hear when I tell people that next June I’m going to row from San Francisco to Hawaii unaided. Quickly followed by “I could never do that…”
Not even 2 years ago, I would have had a similar response. It would have struck me as the kind of thing only a professional rower or someone who had been doing sports their whole life would undertake. Probably someone with the genetic make up of an Olympian and missing an amygdala.
But what I have discovered is that we ALL have more potential than we think. We ALL have fears, it just comes down to how you choose to deal with them. Yep, that’s right…I believe fear is a choice.
I learned that I could choose a different life in spite of feeling crippled by the fear of the unknown after a relationship that lasted over half my life.
I learned that I could choose to walk a ladder across a 300ft ravine in spite of a paralysing fear of heights when I participated in Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins.
And I learned that my fear of deep water would in itself become the biggest risk to my life if I didn’t find a way to control it.
I had turned my life around from being a tired, unhealthy advertising exec in my twenties to the Founder of a fitness business in my thirties. I possess no particular talent, I am not the strongest, the fittest or the fastest. But I have learned that effort counts for double. Hard work, determination and a gritty refusal to give up have got me to places I never could have dreamed of only a few years ago.
I turned short, lethargic runs into marathons and a dislike of road cycling into participation in some pretty tough cycling sportives around the world. Just pure stubbornness to complete every training session and get to the end line.
In 2018, I participated in Channel 4’s SAS WHo Dares Wins. Competing with 24 other recruits to undertake some of the most physically and mentally punishing tasks imaginable.
I was a 40 year old woman, with a fear of heights and water, who (as much surprising myself as anyone who knows me) voluntarily forward abseiled down 200ft cliff faces and plunged herself into ice holes high up in the frozen lakes of the Andes.
One of the first ever women in the UK to reach the final stages and to endure ‘Resistance to Interrogation’.
SAS training offers no recognition. No positive reinforcement at all. You learn to rely on the power of your mind. When you begin to push the boundaries of what you think you are capable of, it’s an incredibly powerful driver to simply do more. There is a deeply cathartic and liberating feeling that comes from suddenly understanding yourself a bit better. Knowing where your body can take you and then finding out that your mind can take you even further.
I want to share how, as a 40 year old woman, I rediscovered my power. How I used that new-found power to open doors and say YES to things. How those experiences changed my life one by one and how remarkably easy that process is if you just choose to take one step in the right direction.
You don’t have to train with the SAS or row an ocean to live your life freely and bravely, but you do have more power than you think and EVERY single journey starts with just one step.
My ‘why’ for joining the incredible Girls Who Dare and rowing 4,000km of stormy ocean is to continue my journey of self-discovery, but through that (and using extreme experiences to illustrate) show others that they are also more capable than they think. Encouraging them to wait before they automatically count themselves out of being able to do something and just take a minute to imagine that they could, if they weren’t afraid.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid? I’d row an ocean…