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The value of control amid chaos with Max Thorpe

by June 06, 2019
Max Thorpe Row 2

In January 2018, 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 and insight into resilience 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.

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

Record breaking!

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 as a Client Associate on Freshminds’ Consulting Projects team. We were pleased to sponsor Max again he took on his second row across the Atlantic in December 2019 - and even more pleased that Max and his teammate Dave Spelman not only completed the row the second time around, but also broke a world record! They successfully completed the 3000-mile journey in just 37 days 7 hours and 54 minutes, finishing first in pairs, and seventh overall. The previous world record was 40 days 4 hours and 3 minutes.

Max is now working as an independent, exploring resilience and speaking at events. Contact us to find out more.

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