This is a new years resolution I will start early. I have been wanting to work on this series consistently for the past year, but not surprisingly, got sidetracked with other "stuff."
I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by a lot of awesome people. There, I'll say it -- and not just because it's my favorite word -- awesome! People who are talented, passionate, care about people and the world, and are truly making a difference. They are those people who you sit down with and leave feeling alive and simply inspired. I want to share those stories with all of you and thus begins "The Inspired Nation."
This week I got to chat with the incredible Katie Spotz. This year, the 23-year-old became the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. In doing so, she raised over $100,000 for the Blue Planet Run Foundation, a nonprofit funding safe drinking water projects for the billion people around the world in need. Spotz was also recently featured in the documentary "Shape What's To Come", which premiered at the first ever TEDWomen Conference. Besides planning her next big adventure, she is also an ambassador for the site -- "a global community encouraging young women to discover their passions and potential... via mentorship and collaboration."
What a year! What inspired you to undertake this journey?
I had many inspirations for this journey. First of all, I just love to challenge myself. Rowing an ocean by myself certainly did that. Also, I made this a "Row for Water" -- until a few years ago, I didn't really understand the extent of the global problem of a lack of safe drinking water. However, when I was in Australia they were suffering from a drought there and it made me look into it more. When I discovered that there were more than a billion people without access to this basic human need, and that you can provide safe drinking water to someone for life for just $30, I knew it was something worth bringing attention to.
You love challenging yourself -- but how do you get over those hurdles that come your way during the journey?
Everyone is faced with hurdles every day of their life, whether they're in a rowing boat on the Atlantic or walking down the street. The way to overcome them is the same wherever you are: take them one at a time. As soon as you let them build up, the issues appear insurmountable, but if you take each one as it comes, it all becomes much easier. Of course, there's the added benefit that, on the ocean, you don't have any option but to overcome it - if you try to ignore something and leave it for next week, it just doesn't go away. Somehow you find a way!
But lets be honest, this isn't just any type of challenge, you need to be physically capable of taking these on too. What type of prep are we talking about?
Many people would be surprised to know that, to row the Atlantic, you don't have to actually be that physically fit. Well, certainly not the kind of fitness that most people strive for in a gym. It's like the difference between a cart-horse and a thoroughbred; I had to be the cart-horse! I prepared with weight-training, focusing on strengthening the core and back, and also did weekly long rows on the rowing machine as well as trial rows on the Great Lakes. This was as much about preparing my mind for the monotony of ocean life as it was for the physical side. My next challenge is going to require even more physical fitness, so I'm doing a lot more high-intensity cardio workouts to prepare for it.
How do you keep on going when you're physically and emotionally drained?
The only way to keep going on a trip as vast as this is to take one mile at a time. Nobody thinks they can row 3,000 miles, but most can manage one mile; well, just do that one mile 3,000 times, and you're there!
What about your attitude/life philosophy can you credit for your success?
I think that the most important factor in my success is that I haven't been afraid of failure. Whenever you do something that challenges you, there is always the risk that you won't succeed. When I set off across the Atlantic, I knew that 50 percent of attempts failed. But I still gave it a shot and, as it happened, I made it. If you avoid doing anything that you might fail, you'll never achieve much. I always question people who succeed in everything they do - why don't they try something more difficult?!
What's next big adventure?
I'm always trying to come up with new ways to challenge myself, and the next one is already being planned. I'm teaming up with Sam Williams, a British ocean rower (and friend of mine), to do another 3,000-mile coast-to-coast journey; only this time it's by land! We're currently looking for sponsors and hope to raise even more money for the charities we support.
What inspires you?
Anyone who pushes themselves. So many people think they know their limits and never try to discover if they can go further. I'm so inspired by anyone who does that -- even if they fail.
Lastly, do you have a motto or a quote you live by?
I like this one "The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
For more about Katie go to Rowforwater.com.
Every week, check back here where I will feature incredible individuals (like Katie) and even organizations who are changing the world and inspiring all of us to do the same. Please comment below or send me a tweet to let me know who I should talk to next.
Dream big and dare yourself to take on the impossible! Happy New Year!
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