Never a good time to quit

By all accounts, I am not the only one who feels like that occasionally.

It is in these times, that we truly need a mentor. For me, and I would recommend for you, there is only one kind of mentor that is worth any value… the one who has been where you are at or want to be. The person with experience in your very circumstance.

On our world-record paramotor expedition in Australia I wanted to quit. We were 70 per cent complete, but were struggling with some equipment challenges. I could not think of a way out. 

I texted my wife back in Canada: “Gotta quit; our equipment is broken."

A few second later I received the uplifting reply: “If you think you are coming back to this house without a Guinness World Record after all the money we have spent and the time we have invested, think again!” 

Looking for an easy way out, I texted my main sponsor in the U.K. who would have been in bed at 3 a.m. “Jim, we can’t finish; we are unable to start the motors."

Jim’s response (within a few seconds) was: “Don’t quit. I will ship two motors to you overnight, you are so close; you can do it."

Add to that two Facebook messages that randomly dropped in to my account from friends in Canada at that exact time. They were both extremely encouraging and the support made me rethink my decision to quit.

At that time, I remembered reading a book — Tough Times Never Last Tough People Do — and I followed one of the tips in the book.

I wrote a list of 10 ways to overcome the problem. The list could include crazy ideas, but I wrote them down anyway. It is not really a surprise, but one of them worked.

We were back in the game and went on to claim a new world record.

The same is true in business. You can feel like all the cards are stacked against you and give in too quickly. You need to build three key elements in to your plan to overcome those feelings of failure:

  • A supportive network that has bought in to your vision.
  • A group of mentors you can reach out to in a similar field
  • A thick skin. Don’t let you feelings overwhelm your ability to dig out of the hole you feel you might be in.

Even in bankruptcy, you are still dealing with assets that have value and there is always a way out if you keep a cool head and have the above network and thought processes in place.

Famed hotelier Conrad Hilton, who was responsible for developing the world’s first global hotel chain, was extremely successful until the Great Depression.

Because of the turn in revenues, the banks seized his assets. He was forced in to bankruptcy.

But he knew his business. He did not go and crawl into a hole and quit. He put himself back on his feet, started again and eventually acquired all of his properties from the bank. 

He died one of the wealthiest men of his generation not that many years later.


Searching for a victory

One of the true tests of a marriage is perhaps whether you can have your wife sit in the co-driver's seat of your 300 h.p. rally car with trees whizzing by at 200 km/h on a forest road and still be friends at the end of the race.

For certain, a healthy dose of insanity goes a long way in this type of environment, as does a reasonable level of self-preservation.

Regardless, Jackie has agreed to co-drive for me this year and I am thrilled. 

Rally is without a doubt my favourite sport to participate in and Jackie is about to find out why.

For the last several years, I have been busy doing advanced driver training and precision driving.

It is good to keep my hand in, but there is nothing like the adrenaline-fuelled anticipation as you sit on the start line of an event with the co-driver counting down those last few seconds and then you drop the clutch.

Like everything in life, I find the surge of adrenaline is very temporary. It is often precipitated by the tension of getting to the start line. The logistics, technical inspections, hotel arrangements and a busy few days prior to the actual rally.

Once the lights go green, my heart rate settles down and my brain engages with a cacophony of notes being read to me by Jackie.

Jackie, on the other hand, is probably petrified. A lot falls in to the co-driver's lap prior to and during the event and for a newbie rally co-driver, the fear of making a simple math error is paramount.

As drivers, we can be fighting for seconds on each stage or event tenths of seconds and yet a simple math error on a time card by the co-driver can lead to a penalty of a minute. 

To try and avoid the challenge, Jackie spent last week being coached by a Canadian champion co-driver, Nathalie Richard.

Nathalie, very kindly, spent a few hours online with Jackie coaching her about a number of management responsibilities both in the car and at the event (including managing the drivers desire to drive too quickly or too slowly).

Obviously, a two- or three-hour session online is not going to create a top quality co-driver, but if Jackie is less nervous at the first event we will have a fun time in the process of getting our feet wet again.

My goal is to have her stand on the hood of the car this year and celebrate a hard-earned victory — because victories always are hard. Nothing comes easy, but I have a suspicion Jackie has a knack for co-driving that is not completely natural.

In a test event several years ago, Jackie jumped in the passenger seat, picked up a set of notes for the stage we were running and announced she was going to read them.

Aside from the fact she had never seen a co-drivers short hand before, I had very little confidence that she could figure out how to pace the delivery of the notes. 

Well, she proved me wrong (which is not an uncommon occurrence in our 33 years of marriage). She kept her head down, delivered the notes almost perfectly and at the end exclaimed she had a problem. She had run out of notes! It was the fastest run through the stage we had done that day. Happy Valentine's Day honey, welcome to the team.

Massive thanks to Valley Mitsubishi, Big O Tires, Motorsports Fuel and Equipment Inc., Bell Helmets, Stroma Sign Group and Team Dynamics for their support in 2018. 

He paddled for the planet

The first time I met Bob was in the middle the Okanagan Lake arm heading in to Vernon. 

It was my second day attempting to paddle around the circumference of the lake on a paddleboard.

As I paddled in toward Vernon, a distant paddler calmly made his way steadily over to us. 

Bob Purdy had heard about our attempt and, after having paddled the length of the lake a year earlier, was eager to support us in our attempt. He had agreed to meet us in the Vernon area.

Bob introduced himself and the tall frame of a man inquisitively asked why I was paddling around the lake.

Oddly, as we were talking, Bob would wander away from my paddleboard, seemingly with another plan in mind. As someone who had only 24 hours experience on a paddleboard, I was more inclined to keep heading in the same direction I was on at that time.

A few minutes later Bob would return to our conversation and geographic location, but with some extra luggage:

  • a plastic bag
  • tin can
  • bottle.

Any trash would divert Bob from his course in an attempt to make the world a better place.

I had taken the time to read about Bob. He was in the midst of a committed program to paddle every day for an hour to show his support for changing the way we live to positively impact the planet.

In truth he really was interested in inspiring people to get committed to a cause. His was “Paddle For The Planet."

Bob was a friendly giant and from that day, we connected as friends. We were a most unlikely match, the capitalist and the environmentalist. We joked about my views of environmentalists, but one thing we were agreed upon is what a mess we have made of our planet. 

Over the years, we had several 5 a.m. paddles on Okanagan Lake, chatting, listening and watching the sunrise on a new day. Then, Bob moved to Tofino with his lovely wife, Sharon.

He was the focus of a locally produced movie, the Paddler. He would never have considered himself the star of the show and that attitude really epitomized Bob. The only thing he saw himself as was an “Elder In Training” and that perhaps is the takeaway for all of us.

You see, Bob understood that at the point where he felt he had arrived, he would have just failed his mission. He would have failed because he would have stopped influencing the world. 

To be an elder in training implies that we have more to learn, yet we are in a position of influence. That, to me, means that people are watching for our example.

Bob had nothing to hide in his life; he wore his morals and values on his shirtsleeve and he would defend them passionately. His goal was that you would believe in something so much that you would defend it passionately. 

I only have a couple for regrets in life and one of them was not being able to accompany Bob on a paddle board trip in to the Great Bear Rainforest after receiving such a special invitation from him.

He shaped my thinking at an important point in my life. He stood for something, something important and he left this world as a “world changer."

RIP Bob Purdy. 


S&R plays vital role

Recently, the Kootenay Search and Rescue region was inundated with one of the biggest volume of calls it has ever received over a 12-hour period.

Most SAR teams were scheduled to be on duty at Avalanche Awareness days at the ski resort in Nelson on the Sunday. My colleague and I packed gear on Saturday and agreed to make an early start.

Our plan was to set up rope rescue equipment and take a rescue dog with us to show to the public.

Saturday night started early with a call around 3 p.m. North of Kaslo, a film crew and skier got into some trouble when a jump went wrong. Leaving families abandoned at the dining room table, volunteers headed out to attempt to find the party and deal with an injured skier. 

At a similar time, more calls came in for missing snow boarders, skiers and sledders. 

My colleague called me and said pack for a day of backcountry skiing, we are on an active search first thing in the morning.

The day for us was spent being in a reserve position, ready to jump on a helicopter and assist with an evacuation. Two separate incidents kept us busy for the day, but the region as a whole had received 15 calls in 12 hours. 

The role that volunteer SAR teams play in B.C. is vital to assist wounded, lost and victims of incidents such as avalanches. Some teams, such as ours in Kaslo, are also first responders to motor vehicle accidents.

It is encouraging to see a group that willingly gives up their personal recreational time, family time or even work time to ensure many people remain safe, survive or are extracted from a very challenging circumstance.

More importantly, thousands of hours of volunteer time are used for training purposes to ensure familiarity with equipment and processes. 

It is extremely rare that we only have a couple of people respond to a call in Kaslo and certainly across the province there is a high level of co-operation between teams, which certainly was the case that weekend.

Knowing that the teams are funded through grants and donations, make sure you at least shake the hand of a SAR team member and thank them for the work they do.

You never know when you might meet them again. 

Don’t forget to get some training on how to safely travel in back country, no matter what the season or weather, and be prepared to be out there for longer than you planned.

More It's All About . . . articles

About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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