Dame Ellen MacArthur has sailed solo around the world, not once, but twice–and she set the record time for doing it. In her recent TED Talk she told the story of her incredible journey and how it inspired her to pursue new and innovative solutions to one of the most pressing problems of our time.
Here are three success lessons that you can learn from Dame Ellen MacArthur’s story:
1. Play the long game.
MacArthur took a long time to plan her sea voyage. She started developing a passion for sailing at age 4. She started saving up for a boat at 10, and left school at 17 to begin a sailing apprenticeship. She made her first trip around the world at age 24. That’s a lot of planning and time devoted to pursuing a singular goal.
Like MacArthur, you can’t expect instant results when you focus on a sizable goal. To get to where you want to be–whether in business, entrepreneurship, or life in general–you’ve got to invest time and effort to get the best results.
2. Remember that the low points will give way to the high points.
It was Christmas Day when MacArthur found herself sailing the Southern Ocean near Australia. The wind was blowing forcefully, the waves were high, and she was days from human contact. "If we didn’t sail fast enough, we’d be engulfed by that storm, and either capsized or smashed to pieces," she says, "We were quite literally hanging on for our lives and doing so on a knife edge." But she pulled through and the storm ended. Much to her surprise MacArthur discovered that the raging storm had pushed her ahead of the world record time that she set out to beat.
When you’re pursuing your goal, you’ll always find moments when a storm seems to want to knock you back. Hang tight, keep working, and don’t give up--that's what it takes to pull through and come out ahead.
3. Embrace unexpected lessons.
When MacArthur was sailing around the world, her boat was her universe. It contained everything she needed to survive, but her supplies were finite, and had to be carefully rationed to a point of pain. When she arrived at the finish line, this inspired her to do the work she’s doing now: leading the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in developing innovative renewable resources and economic systems to secure humanity’s future in a world where resources are finite.
Follow MacArthur’s lead and always look to your experiences, whether amazing or challenging, for inspiration. You never know, an idea could be born that solves a problem faced by many-- and that idea could be the one that makes your dreams come true.