At 28, Ellen MacArthur is a world record holder. In 2005, she broke the speed record for sailing solo non stop around the world.
As a reward and to recognize her great achievement, she was made a Dame, the equivalent of receiving a Knighthood. Like a true 'knight', she is already looking round for her next challenge.
Recently, I saw some of the video diary that Ellen MacArthur had kept during her record breaking solo voyage round the world.
The videos showed clearly how she had overcome fear and fatigue to achieve her dreams. They showed her sheer determination in the face of adversity.
Her honest and emotional reaction to adversity and her courage in overcoming it unites people behind her. She was constantly supported on the voyage by emails and phone calls and then had an overwhelming reception when she arrived home.
Years of preparation had gone into the trip before she even reached the start line.
She made good progress at first but there were bad omens on day six. Her main generator was using too much oil. She spent days trying to make it work properly.
In the process, she burned herself and electrocuted herself in the over heated generator room. This was the closest she got to calling off her trip.
Eventually she sat down and thought: Is there anything else I can do? There was no engineer available.
Eventually,the thought came to her that the generator is air cooled. It needed cold air to keep going. She found a way to use a hose to get cold air to the generator and it worked.
She had solved her problem on her own because she had to and no one else was available except Neptune himself and he is not always helpful.
There was no let up. One problem after another showed up. As soon as she had fixed the generator the weather turned bad.
She then reached the southern ocean. This was already a great achievement but this is the most perilous ocean on the planet. Ellen was again pushed to breaking point.
The wind was unstable. Large hailstones and snow rained down on her and the yacht. She commented: "These are the worst conditions I have ever sailed in. The last three days have been hell."
She reached the end of her tether many times. She described how she felt:
"You can't deal with anything else. You can't. But you have to. No one can help you. There is no one there. You are on your own. No one can help you. Being scared at sea is pointless. Panicking does not help. No one will answer your calls. There is no one there."
Christmas day came when she was 11,000 miles from home in very rough seas. Her best Christmas present was getting out the other side of the bad weather. She rang her family but was unable to talk for very long.
By day 49, she felt she had gone beyond endurance. However she was now past the half way mark. At one point she gashed her head. She told her video diary: "I am so, so tired. I am absolutely exhausted. Sleep deprivation is torture".
Every day, it seemed like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. One problem followed another. The track on the main mast was damaged. Guess who had to fix that.
"Everytime I try to sleep, I wake up sweating and like I've been in a fight."
She then headed north for the equator. She gave Neptune a gift (her necklace) as tradition demanded. But Neptune did not appear to appreciate the gift. The wind dropped slowing her down.
Eventually, however, she crossed the finish line after 71 days at sea. She had broken the record by about a day and a half. A flotilla of small boats welcomed her and escorted her into port. She was overwhelmed and elated:
"The support really did make a difference. Nothing can prepare you for that sort of reception."
What impressed me most in her account was her realization that she had to solve her own problems. This made her dig deep and solve them.
Maybe we all need to try harder to solve our own problems before we get on the phone for help. We could surprise ourselves.
Even if we can easily get help, it is worth having a go first ourselves. We may well succeed on our own and this will build our confidence in our own powers. Even if we don't succeed we will learn more when help arrives.
We will understand the problem more clearly and, therefore, understand and appreciate the solution far more.
If Ellen MacArthur managed to get round the world on her own in a state of exhaustion and fear, we can probably manage to fix one or two of our own problems without immediately calling for help.
About the author
John Watson is an award winning teacher and martial arts instructor. He has recently written two books about achieving your goals and dreams.
They can both be found on his website http://www.motivationtoday.com along with a daily motivational message.
The title of the first book is "36 Laws To Ignite Your Inner Power And Realize Your Dreams Now! - Acronyms, Stories, And Pictures...Easy To Remember And Use Everyday To Grab Your Life And Soar With The Eagles"
The book can be found at this URL: http://www.motivationtoday.com/36_laws.php
The book uses acronyms, stories and pictures to help readers remember 36 laws that can gradually transform your life if you apply them.
You are welcome to publish the article above in your ezine or on your website so long as you do not alter it and keep in the words about the author and the 36 Laws.