No hope on the boat – a life lesson from TEDx Brighton


I was lucky enough to get a ticket for TEDx Brighton, the conference that aimed to deliver a few “reasons to be cheerful”.

The conference was fantastic – a phenomenal experience considering none of the attendees paid a penny to attend. Tom Bailey, the organiser, has a lot to be proud of. It was also a pleasure to watch two familiar locals, Anthony Mayfield and Will McInnes, deliver excellent talks.

However, my favourite bit of one big awesome day was hearing about Sally Kettle’s adventure’s in rowing the Atlantic. Sally told us a tale that sounded somewhat like a peculiar daydream, rather than something a person actually did. A spur of the moment decision to row the Atlantic ended when her  partner pulled out sick, so Sally called on her long-estranged mum. They then spent the next four months rowing together, across the actual Atlantic.

During the arduous voyage Sally would sometimes complain, “I hope the current changes direction” or “I hope the weather holds out for us” or “I hope we reach land soon”. Eventually Sally’s mum snapped, “Stop hoping for things. Hope does nothing to change anything. Hope is not an action plan. If you want to reach land sooner, row harder. There’s no hope on the boat.”

There’s no hope on the boat!

I love this idea. When Sally first mentioned her catchphrase, it sounded very bleak. “No hope” – doesn’t sound great, does it? But the meaning is incredibly positive, because it’s a call to arms. It’s an encitement to take charge, to take control and to stop waiting for things to happen.

So if you ever catch yourself hoping, or praying, for things to change, stop. Less hope, more rowing.


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