Cultivating Resilience: Lessons from Rowing the Atlantic with Max Breet

Cresset Capital Insights

Have you ever rowed a boat? Exhausting, right? Now imagine rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean! That’s exactly what Max Breet and his four-man team did to beat 34 other teams and win the 2019/2020 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – a feat that fewer people have completed than have reached the summit of Mount Everest!

Max will share his experiences and lessons learned from that adventure on Thursday, Aug. 13, at 12 p.m. CT during a live webinar hosted by Cresset. Click here to register & learn more. This webinar is open to all ages, and families are encouraged to watch and learn together.

We recently connected with Max to get a sneak peek into what he will share during the webinar and gain perspective into his resilience, mindset, and adaptability. With the uncertain challenges of our world today, this discussion will remind us that it’s not always about the end goal; it’s about the journey and lessons learned that make us better, stronger, and more resilient for the next challenge.

What role does mindset play when taking on a tremendous endeavour like the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge? How did you mentally prepare?

Max: While the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge demanded strict physical and technical preparation in spades, it was our mindset that allowed us to deliver a winning performance. The grit to keep the boat moving in the early stages (under severe bouts of sea sickness); the determination to row through any weather we faced irrespective of time, fatigue, or hunger; and the resilience to face the hardest task of all – the continual, monotonous 12 hours of rowing a day until the finish line!

What experiences and lessons from the row have you applied most during COVID?

Max:  COVID-19 has been a very personal experience for us all, but I think what I translated directly from the row was an ability to break 24 hours into a series of micro-goals, like time-bound task lists, meal preparation periods, physical training, reading, meditating, sleeping, etc., and being extra resourceful within a small living space with a finite amount of facilities.

What can young people do today to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead?

Max: Honestly, I think my biggest inhibitor as a young person was the fear of failure – that catastrophising your ego does when faced with a task it perceives you ill prepared for – to which my experience when I’ve persevered in spite of ego has been either the reward of success or perhaps the even more valuable experience of growth. Either way, it all starts with goal-setting and making an initial commitment to your goals.

How do you navigate through times when you feel vulnerable and “not resilient”?

Max: Whenever I feel vulnerable or overwhelmed, I just consider what is within my immediate control, and what is just influencing my decision by making “noise”. Anything other than what is in my control is no longer my priority. By executing on that which is in my control, I usually expand my options toward a more positive outcome.

Do you think that resilience is an inherent or a learned trait? If it is learned, what is one thing we can all do to improve our resiliency?

Max: The stress response is biologically the same in all of us (irrespective of gender, race, class, or occupation), so an ocean rower mid-Atlantic is actually experiencing the same stress response as a young person mid-exams (or even the same as a caveman experienced when chased by a sabre-toothed tiger!) The differences lie in an individual’s perception of the demands of the situation versus the resources available to employ toward a successful outcome. I am no guru on this topic; I just know what I have found to be effective from personal experience – breathing control, visualisation, and positive self-talk are all tools I’ve employed for mental resilience.

 

Click here to register for Max’s webinar on Thursday, Aug. 13, at 12 p.m. CT.