Roz Savange is an adventurer with a big A, she is the first woman to have rowed solo across three oceans. She holds four Guinness World Records for ocean rowing. She has rowed over 15,000 miles, taken around 5 million oarstrokes, and spent cumulatively over 500 days of her life at sea in a 23-foot rowboat. Roz Savage is a United Nations Climate Hero, a trained presenter for the Climate Reality Project, and an Athlete Ambassador for 350.org. She is on the board of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, and a Blue Ambassador for the UK-based BLUE Project. Roz has been listed amongst the Top Twenty Great British Adventurers by the Daily Telegraph and the Top Ten Ultimate Adventurers by National Geographic. In 2011 she received the Ocean Inspiration Through Adventure award. She has been inducted into the International Green Industry Hall of Fame. In 2010 she was named Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic.
My Definition Of Success | When I graduated from university in 1989, I thought success was having a well-paid job in the city, with a nice house and lots of things. I’d grown up in a poor family, and was tired of having no money, so I really thought that money would buy me happiness.
After 11 years of working as a management consultant, I had to admit that I had been wrong. I had all the things that I had thought would make me happy – the job, the house, the car – but while I had been climbing the ladder of success, I had leaned my ladder against the wrong building.
What really brought this home to me was when I wrote two versions of my own obituary – the one I wanted, and the one I was heading for. They were very different. I realized that money and stuff actually meant very little to me. What I wanted was a life of happiness and meaning, and to feel that I would leave the world a better place than I found it.
It’s so important that we each figure out what success means to us. It’s so easy to be influenced by parents, teachers, friends, even politicians and advertisers. But we each have our own life to live, and we have to live it according to our own definition of success.
The Difference Between good And Great | We hear a lot about the importance of being passionate about what you do, and that is true, but it’s not the whole truth. You need to find something that resonates with your values, your aesthetics, your sense of harmony and rightness. But to be really great at what you do, you also need to be prepared to work hard. I sometimes worry that people look for instant gratification – win the lottery or get on TV, and your life will be transformed overnight. But that’s rarely the way it works. To be the best that you can be, you need discipline, determination and dedication. And the good news is, that the harder you’ve had to work for something, the greater the sense of achievement when you accomplish your goals.
The Key To Achieving Anything | The journey to success can be long and hard – and rowing across oceans is such a great metaphor. There will be times when the going gets tough, and motivation slumps. And probably the biggest risk to achieving your goal is that you will lose the will to go on – NOT because you’ve reached your limit of exhaustion or frustration, but because you FEAR that you will reach your limit at some point in the future, that you will fail.
The best way I’ve found to overcome this fear is to:
– Hold a crystal clear vision in your mind of how it will feel to reach your goal. Use as many senses as you can, how will you feel? How will people respond to you in your success? What will it look like? Sound like? Smell like?
– Then ask yourself on a daily basis: What do I need to do today to get a bit closer to my goal? And do it.
– But never, never, dwell on all the things that could possibly go wrong between where you are now and where you want to be. It’s good to have a contingency plan for problems, of course, but make the plan and then keep it on one side. Don’t worry over it. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed by fear and doubt if you focus on the negative. Hold true to your vision, keep the faith, and stay on course.
The Values I Live By | Be of service to the world – it is the best source of genuine happiness. Push yourself outside your comfort zone every day – if your comfort zone isn’t expanding, it’s shrinking. And whatever you do, put your whole heart into it.
How I Use My Mind | When alone at sea for up to five months, with so much time to think, it can be easy to slip into a spiral of negativity. It’s vitally important to maintain what Viktor Frankl called “psychological hygiene”, to keep your thoughts positive and your emotions regulated. The biggest challenge to my equanimity while at sea is the frustration of things that can’t be controlled – the wind, the roughness of the ocean, the currents. I would have to try to find some element of the situation that I could control, and focus on that – go clean up the cabin, mend something, scrub barnacles off the hull. And if all else fails, the one thing you can always control is your mental response to the situation. No matter what is going on around you, you can choose whether to respond constructively, or negatively.
Dealing With Doubt | When I was rowing across the Atlantic, my first ocean, it was an enormous struggle. The weather was exceptionally dreadful, plus psychologically I was so far out of my depth it wasn’t even funny. I kept asking myself, “Can I do this? Do I have what it takes?” And because I had no proof that I could do this, it being my first attempt, the answer kept coming back, “No”. It took me a while to figure out that it was a pointless question. I wouldn’t know until I got to the other side whether I could do it. So what I needed to do was keep on sticking my oars in the water without questioning, and eventually time would tell whether I was indeed capable of doing this.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | When I was going through my transition from management consultant to ocean rower, I read a book called Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsch. In it, he wrote that we must aim to be “the grandest version of the greatest vision you ever had of yourself”. That concept completely changed my life. He went on to say that when we are less than who we can be, when we sell ourselves short, we do a disservice not just to ourselves, but to the world. When we give ourselves permission to truly flourish, we make the whole world a better place.
The Meaning Of Life | I believe it’s up to each and every one of us to define what is the meaning of our individual life. I don’t believe there is a one-answer-fits-all. We need to figure out what values are important to us, and live our lives according to those.
The Legacy I Want To Leave | I am an ardent believer that we need to take better care of our planet – it’s the ultimate closed loop system, so we need to keep it clean if we are going to have healthy air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat. In the highest vision of my goals, I would love to leave the world a cleaner, greener place, and for everybody in the world to understand at the deepest level how important this is – not for the planet’s sake, but for ours.