If you met Debra Searle MBE you’d be shocked to learn she has rowed single-handedly across the Atlantic (almost).

Shocked, because at 5’4” she looks great but not your typical Atlantic-crossing rower-type!

And I say ‘almost’ because she started out with her husband – a 6’4” ex-royal-marine with lots of rowing experience – who did not cope with the isolation at sea and was rescued 12 days out from their start in Tenerife.

Debra chose to continue and spent another 100+ days at sea before arriving in the Caribbean to complete her crossing.

I met Debra after presenting the keynote at the recent CIMA Members In Practice conference. Debra was the after dinner speaker – she was brilliant.

Debra – in her book The Journey – describes how much she enjoyed it but also describes the mental and physical challenges of the journey.

Debra has kindly supplied me with a picture from her book which is now the desktop picture of my laptop.

The picture: After an hour’s rest Debra would sit down ready to start another two hours of rowing (her routine was 2 hours on 1 hour off, 2 on, 1 off!).

As she sat down she would look at the bulkhead of the rowing boat – painted sky blue.

  • On the left there’s a GPS device describing her exact location – WHERE SHE IS NOW.
  • On the right there’s a compass showing in what direction she is rowing – WHERE SHE IS GOING.
  • In the middle there’s the hatch to her tiny cabin where she grabs 20 minutes sleep after feeding herself and making any repairs to the boat’s equipment.
  • On the hatch door there’s painted a three arrow graphic with the words ‘CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE’.

And Debra describes how she would consciously debate and decide what attitude to adopt to get through the next 2 hours.

‘Determined’, ‘optimistic’, ‘enthusiastic’.

She made a conscious choice.

She chose an attitude to help her get through the next two hours.

It worked.

She made it.

As accountants, and business owners in particular, it pays to be conscious of our attitude.

It pays to choose an attitude to support our goals – WHERE WE ARE GOING. Why would you chose an attitude to undermine your goals – consciously you wouldn’t, unconsciously you do.

Well at least I do.

Which is why I now have Debra’s picture as my desktop – to consciously remind myself to choose an attitude to support me rather than undermine me.

Your attitude determines your ability to deal with and respond to your team, your customers, your family and anything life throws at you.

Why would you leave it to chance?

Why would you do anything other than choose it consciously?

And given that your clients turn to you for advice, guidance and support it might prove valuable to choose an attitude to support your role.

You choose!

Or don’t (which is still a choice, albeit unconsciously).

A great book on this is the FISH! book – the story of The World Famous Pike Place Fish Market.

A fabulous fable – albeit true – about how this Seattle-based fish market behave and achieve success.

They have four phrases on which their massively successful business model is based. One of which is ‘CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE’.

The other three?

Read the book, it’s worth it…

Paul Shrimpling signature