Quite often we equate success and happiness with the ability to achieve preset, tangible goals. But what happens if we don’t reach those goals? What happens when we fail?
In a pessimistic approach, one could say Ocean Racers has a history of failures. We had to abandon two IMOCA races due to gear failures, we didn’t raise enough money to get the the Vendee Globe, we’ve had two solo skippers drop out, and we had to postpone our World Rally.
In each of these circumstances the future of Ocean Racers was threatened. Most of these situations were out of our control except for one key element: the next steps. We could have taken each of these losses as our last and gave up. But we didn’t; we readjusted and reinvented to ensure that we are still here.
So if we are still here, did we ever really fail? Our sport has taught us a lot about managing situations and conditions that are dealt to us. Sometimes all we need is a slight adjustment of sails, other times you have to change course and can even end up at a different destination all together. The true success of a sailor is to adjust to your environment and what your vision of success is.
Grit is why we are still here. And grit is a powerful energy that can be tapped at anytime. What will get you up on watch when you’re sleep-deprived, seasick, behind the fleet and still perform at your best? Grit. What will get you to port safely after catastrophic events? Grit. What will keep you going despite all other things pulling you down? Grit.
Grit is especially important in offshore racing. Perseverance and focus on these marathon races are the key to success. You have to be performing at your very best 24/7 and the only thing that will slow you down is yourself. While we are only human and our bodies do have limits, grit is what allows us to overcome mental hurdles of “cannot” and turn that into “can.” Grit is your lifeline when failure is not an option.
We may have still yet to win on a race course, but we are winners. If you break it down, go deeper than all the goals and milestones and unearth our true purpose — we have not failed. Our mission has always been to promote the sport of offshore racing and all of the crew we have welcomed aboard are a testament to that success.
This week we embark on a race that reminds us how far we have come. If all had gone according to plan, we wouldn’t be here. Maybe we’d be back in Canada preparing for the Barcelona World Race. Maybe we’d be in Tahiti with the World Rally. Or if we gave up all together maybe we wouldn’t be anywhere at all.
No matter where we are or where we could have been, we had a choice. We had a choice to allow our failures to end us or inspire us. We had the choice to reach deeper and push harder to stay in the game. We chose to win, not lose.
With over two years as a team, we have a lot to look back on, but even more to look forward to. We hope one day we can be on the stage at the Volvo Ocean Race and be asked, “what’s your secret to success?”
In which we will undoubtedly respond: GRIT.