The Optimist Creed – half full or half empty?
I came across what can only be described as arecently and I liked it so I thought I would share it. But before I do I felt I should explain its relevance to me, to what I am doing and also how it could become your mantra too!
I really like reading inspirational quotes about things various people have achieved. I find reading a few before I go training really helps to get me through it when it gets hard. One thing I have learned up to now is that my body is capable of far more than my brain seems to think. It seems to be a constant battle of wills between my body and my brain. My head says, “C’mon Keith, this hurts now let’s just take the easy option and stop, we have done enough for today” despite the fact that my body is capable of doing a lot more. An example of this is when I have finished an intense 12k session rowing hard on the erg for 12k and I have another 6k session to do, my brain says “no can do”. That’s when all those inspirational quotes come into my head and I have to say NO to my brain and make a decision to do my last 6km. The funny thing is that, once I have done the last 6km session, I feel great as if I have won a mini battle with myself.
Little things like this throughout my training are important because they have thought me that when I feel like quitting to resist the temptation and to get on with things because the feel good factor I get from those mini victories provides a real sense of achievement. They also help me in my next session.
No matter what we do in life, most of us are inspired by the actions of other people. I seem to have a very different outlook from a lot of my friends, however, when I see someone do something amazing I think, “wow, that was an amazing achievement” and that’s shortly followed by, “well if he/she can do it that means I could too”. That may sound slightly conceited if not a little naive and perhaps it is but that’s how I think. Malcolm Gladwell, argues in his book “outliers” that when we try to understand success, we normally start with the wrong question. We ask “what is a person like?” when we should really be asking “where are they from?” The real secret of success turns out to be surprisingly simple, and it hinges on a few crucial twists in people’s life stories- on the culture they grow up in and the way they spend their time.
Why did I want to row and Ocean? The simple answer to that is that when I was at school, I seen two Irish men on the news who had just rowed the Atlantic and I was inspired by them. It was many years after that when I made the decision to actually go and do it. And like Gladwell suggests, it was the experiences of my life to date which made me take on this challenge. I am not any different physically or mentally to anyone of you. I just have a different way of seeing things. I see the glass as half full in life. This has caused me problems at times but for the most part it is a great way to approach problems. As Thomas Edison said, “I haven’t failed I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work!”
I met a fellow Irish man about a year ago who had the same ambition as me, a kindred spirit of sorts. He wanted to row an Ocean solo too. He was attempting to row the Atlantic Ocean solo. A very small number of Irish people have rowed the Atlantic previously but none of them have done it solo. The man’s name, Sean McGowan! Ironically we were both inspired by the same two men. He had seen the same news report as me and it had the same effect on him. So I met Sean for a coffee to have a chat about both of our challenges a year ago. He was rowing in the 2009 Atlantic rowing race from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean and journey of 2,500 nm. His ambition was to do it in as close to 60 days as possible.
Sean pictured with his family on board his boat “tess” on the river Shannon
Sean is currently nearing the end of his crossing and is about 110nm off the coast of Antigua at the moment. He should finish in the next three to four days. He has been at sea for 115 days so far. I have been following his epic journey across the Atlantic and it’s fair to say that anything that could go wrong for him did. The list of problems he has had is endless but he got through all of them in spite of the fact he is now at sea almost twice as long as he had hoped for. Sean is obviously a glass half full guy too. So from one budding Irish Ocean rower to one who is just about to complete his Ocean row, congratulations Sean on a wonderful achievement. If I wore a cap it would be tipped at this point.
This time next year I will be at sea on route to becoming the first Irish person to row the Indian Ocean, the first Irish male solo and the youngest male solo in the world.
So here is the little mantra I have decided to try and follow. It helps me and I am sure if we all took even a few of the points on board it would make us a lot happier in life whether you’re and budding Ocean rower or milk man.
THE OPTIMIST CREED
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet.
To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.
“The Optimist Creed,” is quoted from Science of Mind 71 (June 1998): 50.
Add your comment
In 2011 I am aiming to become the first Irish person to row solo across the Indian Ocean. Although this challenge is vastly different from everyday life for me, I believe I have the determination and sheer single mindedness to achieve my goal of becoming the first Irish person to row across the Indian Ocean, not only that but I will also be the first Irish person to attempt it solo. My other interests include snow boarding, playing guitar (badly), drama, flying and generally keeping fit.
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