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Change and the art of ocean rowing in the face of fear

by Ian Rowe on 02-Oct-2016 15:37:06

Change-at-sea.jpg

At the inaugural HubSpot User Group, Ian will be giving a fascinating talk about 'change', drawing from his epic experience crossing the Atlantic in a rowing boat. We join Ian's story as they leave the African coast behind...

"The first night at sea was a massive, terrifying shock. I couldn’t believe it. Giant waves smashing into the boat. Howling wind. Oar handles smashing into my shins, cutting them open. Hands blistering and tearing apart. Soaked and cold from water cascading in over the side. The boat crashing over onto her side, rearing up on the huge swells.

Nauseous with the onset of seasickness. What the f#*k was this? This was beyond brutal, it was unrelenting, it was terrifying…this wasn’t the plan, this wasn’t what I’d expected….and then darkness fell.

That magnified everything and at the same time shrank my world down into the small bubble of light cast by the boat’s running lights. We were still experiencing all the same things with the waves, wind and oars battering us, yet now we could not see very much of anything.

My feelings of fear, of terror even, grew. The wind roared and the shuddering impact of waves seemed even more severe. And we were all but blind in our little bubble. Aware of huge dark rolling waves surging past our little rowing boat, and seemingly shrinking just as the open ocean grew larger and larger around us.

Cambridge-HUG-03.11.16.jpgThe reality of what we had taken on was now sinking in. In the previous 10 months we had trained and planned and trained and planned for this moment. Sea trials off the south coast of England from 8 to 36 hours in variable conditions, sometimes in strong winds, swells, and driving rain. Sometimes in blazing sunshine, sometimes in all but flat calm sea.

We had practiced and practiced; shift changes, using the water maker, cooking rations, moving around on the boat, living in the cabin, and simply rowing the boat.

Planning and practice, time and again, we were all experts - and yet, in the space of two hours, it had all changed beyond belief. And we felt like novices.

In the lead up to setting out we had left no stone unturned for our adventure. Not just rowing across the Atlantic, but setting out to become the first boat in history to row across unsupported in under 30 days. This was our chance, my chance, to go into the history books alongside all those other heroes who were the first in history.

Yet here we were, barely two hours out from leaving the harbour, and I was terrified and in shock.

This was way beyond what I had expected, planned or trained for – and we still had 3,000 miles of open ocean ahead of us.

This is where experience comes in. For me, in this brutal environment it was something I had learned from working with an Olympic rowing champion, Martin Cross, a boyhood hero of mine who had won Great Britain’s first Olympic rowing gold for nearly half a century. Martin had coached me in the work of Elisabeth Kubler Ross and her studies which developed the ‘change curve’ and the process we go through when change happens.

HubSpot-User-Group-talk.jpgRight now, in 30 foot swells, pitch black, mentally and physically battered, in shock, fearing for my life, I recognised I was still going to go through the process: shock, denial, frustration and even depression.

But what lay ahead was ‘experimentation’ as I came to terms with what was really happening. In fact I was already adapting, testing, finding new ways to deal with the circumstances. I knew too that eventually I would make a decision to let go of what was, and embrace what is. To go with it and integrate into the ‘new me’. To handling it and grow through it, and making it mine, a part of me.

That knowledge was hugely exciting, something to drive towards, to use my fear to take me forward. Over the next 28 days, rowing 2 hours on, 2 hours, off, that is exactly what happened.

We were closing in on the world record - edging ever closer to crossing the ocean in under 30 days; my dream was going to be delivered, my place in history nautical history assured.

Then change happened. Again. And now our very lives were at stake".

If you would like to hear what happened next please join us for the HUG on the 3rd November.

Book your ticket here

Topics: HubSpot User Group

Ian Rowe

Written by Ian Rowe

Ian is an inspirational speaker who leaves you inspired, captivated and engaged. His talks are based around his part in an attempt to become the first boat in history to row unsupported across 3,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean in under 30 days. Ian will give you a unique insight into ocean rowing and how the highs and lows, challenges and setbacks relate directly to ‘normal’ life, both at work and at home.