Dream Big. Work Hard. Make It Happen.
On November 24th, I completed one of the most difficult projects I’ve ever undertaken. It did not consist of a multi-billion dollar IPO, a complex refinancing process or a cross-border acquisition. It was not even related to my career, but it has taught me more than many years in finance.
At the end of last year, after building momentum as an Open Water Swimmer, I decided I’d try and become the first person to swim one of the toughest events in each of the seven continents (incl. Antarctica) within the same year. In a purist fashion: no sponsor, no coach and no wetsuit.
As a good islander, the Ocean has always fascinated me. It reminds us, every day, that natural elements are more powerful than us. Just like with any job in life, you can put the best training, attitude and team behind, but if conditions are bad that day and it is not for you, it is not for you.
The year went by pretty quickly, and so did the first six races across six continents. I swam with roaring seas in Australia, with white sharks in South Africa, in the heights of Bolivia, with jellyfish in the English Channel, in the darkness of Catalina Channel and under the heat of Hong Kong.
Antarctica was a very different animal though. Ice Swimming is an extreme sport that requires a specific training and mindset. It is the kind of mission and risks you accept without thinking, and then figure out how to do it. My brain had to convince my body that it was capable of doing it.
I have not been to the Moon, but it must be very similar to Antarctica: virgin, isolated and huge. And there I was, standing among the world’s best ice swimmers, surrounded by icebergs, penguins, snow and strong winds, ready to swim a KM in -1.4C waters in nothing more than a speedo.
This was like pitching for the largest Sovereign Wealth Fund in a very strategic M&A, against the best bankers in Wall Street. Sometimes in life you get a rare opportunity to shine, where all planets are aligned, timing is perfect, and all eyes are on you. Make sure you don’t mess up.
On November 24th, I became the 20th person in history to swim in Antarctica and the 1st person in history to swim a major event in the seven continents in the same year. Landing back in the real world after that is not easy, but I am now convinced of the amazing mind power we all have.
As we know, “success is not final and failure is not fatal”, but when you combine planning, hard work and perseverance, along with a huge desire and conviction that you can achieve a goal, there is very little that can stop you. So, what is it going to be? What’s your Antarctica?
Instructions are easy: “Dream Big. Work Hard. Make It Happen.”