If ever you can’t decide on a guest speaker choose Lewis Pugh. If ever you are seeking motivation from an inspirational icon choose Lewis Pugh. If ever you are looking for guidance in achieving your dreams choose Lewis Pugh. If ever you feel like giving up on your goal choose Lewis Pugh. If ever you decide that something isn’t possible choose Lewis Pugh. And ladies if ever you can’t decide between George Clooney and Hugh Jackman choose Lewis Pugh.
What an experience! When he arrived at our DAV offices in Cape Town it was love at first sight! Easy on the eyes, uplifting for the mind, beneficial for the business and did I mention easy on the eyes? For those of us who are not familiar with the name Lewis Pugh it’s either because we have been living under a rock for the past 4 years or because we know him as “the human polar bear”. He was the first person to swim at the North Pole, at temperatures that would kill a normal person, to raise awareness of climate change. A polar protector, international speaker, athlete and world-class explorer, ladies and gentleman it’s Lewis Pugh!
It was an hour and a half of humble simplicity, refreshing advice, passion, laughter, genuine love, a display of unwavering dedication, astonishment, goose bumps and for many of us a few tears.
Now usually after a training session or motivational speech we are able to take 1 or maybe 2 valuable messages away with us, but with Lewis it was like watching a child guzzle a gooey chocolate cupcake where every morsel is gobsmackingly good.
I am dying to share a few moments with you. He bought to our attention that when we set goals for ourselves or when we are about to tackle a significant challenge we often find ourselves preparing for both victory and defeat at the same time. But this inhibits our chances of victory. We need to squeeze every negative thought out of our minds. We cannot allow them into our subconscious where they will become ingrained.
For Lewis to complete the swim he had to do everything he could to tell himself that he will make it. He most certainly would not have survived the swim if he thought about how easily it could all go wrong and how he could hit the black water and sink 4.3km to the bottom of the Arctic Ocean where there would be no way to recover his body. This brings me to my first Lewis inspired message.
There is nothing more powerful than a made up mind. He had to get his head into the right place. He had to decide that he was going to complete the swim before he even started. So before you decide on your next goal or dream make up your mind that you will achieve it, squeeze all the negative thoughts out of your mind and decide on a positive outcome.
The next message I want to share with you are the 3 things Lewis needed to be able to get through the swim. When those negative thoughts crept in these are the 3 anchors he used to keep going – to achieve the impossible.
- The first thing he did was break the swim down into ten 100m chunks and every chunk had a particular significance for him. He had ten national flags and he planted one at every 100m mark and each flag represented the people from that country who had helped him to do the swim. As he swam past every flag he focused on those people who believed in him and not on the frightening black water ahead of him. Breaking our goals up into smaller steps allows us to think about each step as we are doing it and no more. The focus is just to get to the next step. Don’t think about the entire goal. It’s too much. So when next you set yourself a goal break it down and think about each step as a separate attainable achievement.
- The second thing Lewis did was walk back to the beginning of his life and reflect on where he has come from. He thought about all the significant times in his life when he had achieved or experienced something great. Even if it was a special moment with family. The significance of this is that there is a meaning to what we are doing in life and we only have to walk back through our lives to see it.
- And the third thing he did was walk to the end of his life and turn around and look back.
He asked himself, “What do I want my legacy to be?” He was doing a symbolic swim to show the world what is happening to our environment. If he completes it he will be able to look back and say, “When the moment came, I stood up.”
I believe we can all use these in our daily lives no matter our big or small our dreams. So GO, GO, GO! In the words of Lewis Pugh “don’t be frightened of your dreams – hunt them down!”
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