If you’ve listened to any episode of Sparta Chicks Radio, you’ll know I’m fascinated by the question: how do you find the courage and bravery to chase your goals and dreams?
And this week’s guest is the perfect person to ask.
Michelle Lee has done a lot of things over the years - hiked 160km through the Himalayas and trekked the 96km Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. She has competed in triathlons, ocean swims and tried parasailing and white water rafting.
However, the one thing she had never tried was rowing.
But that didn’t stop her from setting her sights on one of the world’s toughest nautical challenges - the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge - a 5,371km / 2900 nautical mile ocean rowing event across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain to Antigua in the Caribbean.
To put this event into perspective, more people have been into space or climbed Mount Everest than have ever rowed across an ocean.
And not only did she set her sights on this solo, unassisted and self-supported event, she had entered and had her boat built, all before she had ever pulled an oar through the water.
If Michelle achieves her goal in December this year, she’ll become the first Australian woman to row across any ocean.
So how does someone who describes herself as a “quintessential ordinary woman” set out to do the extraordinary?
Michelle's home during the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge
And how does she find the courage and bravery to attempt one of the world’s toughest nautical challenges as an absolute newbie in the sport?
* the surprising reason she was inspired to do this event,
* her boat and the logistics of competing in a solo, unassisted, self-supported event that could take 60 to 90 days and the challenges she could face,
* her fears for the event and how she is (and will) manage them (note it’s all about the stories she tells herself),
* what she has learnt as she has grown older,
* her experience with feeling like a fraud, especially as a complete newbie to this sport.
Some of my favourite quotes from this episode:
My other option was to go solo or miss out. That’s it. So I decided to go and do it solo.
Have that really clear objective. Have that ‘why’ factor. What is fuelling and motivating me to do this? You just keep reminding of that.
I could have stopped at least 30 times and just said ‘fuck it’. This is just too hard. My life was just so easy and cruisy. Just keep your eye on the prize. What’s in this for me at the end? What am I going to get out of this and how am I going to feel if I just say ‘fuck it’?
The older I get, I am learning acceptance over resistance. Don’t resist the feeling. Don’t resist the situation. It is what it is. Fall into a place of acceptance and the battle is lessened….I just find that life is a lot smoother and it’s less difficult when you can fall into that place of acceptance.
I have that little birdie [the voice of the Imposter ] sitting on my shoulder, constantly. But at this stage in the game, I have to say it’s really nice that I can notice that it is getting less. It is not as loud.
Just start. Start thinking you can. And you will.
Notes and resources:
You can read more about the Talisker Whisky Challenge here (I will come back and update this post once the app and athlete tracker become available closer to the event).