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About 1 year ago by Charlie Roe

The value of control amid chaos with Max Thorpe


​16 months ago, when struck by some of the worst sea conditions in over a decade, Max and his teammate Chris’s attempt to break a world record rowing across the Atlantic Ocean dramatically unravelled. After an enormous capsize and subsequent fire on-board their boat, they faced an extraordinary battle against the elements. With the odds overwhelmingly stacked against them, they had to adapt and push beyond their limits in order to stay alive. With no clear indication of a rescue, they endured the relentless assault of the waves long into the night. Rescue provided no respite as they found themselves clinging for their lives to the side of an enormous oil tanker during a perilous rescue attempt.

10 months on from what is now regarded as one of the most dramatic sequences of events in the history of ocean sport, Max made the decision to take on the challenge again. This resulted from a tumultuous but eye-opening self-analysis. As he prepares for this ‘comeback’, the blissful ignorance of the fateful first attempt is replaced by the first-hand experience of a worst-case scenario. It requires new outlooks, adapted strategies and a tougher mental resilience to head back and face the challenge again on the 12th December 2019.

Some of the key themes of insight are: 

  • Decision Making Under Pressure

When we encounter stressful situations, we have evolved to fight-or-flight to combat the threat. We all react differently to high-pressure scenarios, but an awareness of what is within your control is fundamental to effective decision making.

  • Bouncing Back from Failure

Once we understand the subjective nature of failure, we can begin to release from its constraints. The importance of failure’s role in development relies on adapting its traditional fatal stigma towards a more progressive version that positions it as an opportunity.

  • The Importance of Leading by Example

There is immense value in understanding how to present action acts as a guide to be followed in the future. This simple notion of ‘setting a precedent’ can inspire a best practice for those around us and equally, can futureproof against stagnation in the pursuit of growth.

Max first joined Freshminds as a candidate after completing his Bachelor’s degree in Politics from the University of Nottingham in 2016. He then joined the company full-time in March 2018 and now works as a Client Associate on Freshminds’ Consulting Projects team. We’re pleased to say that we will be sponsoring Max again as he takes on his second row across the Atlantic this December. He’ll also be speaking at our upcoming Summer Strategy dinner giving a more detailed version of how the events unfolded.

Check out Max’s Ted talk here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szym3hKe0QQ