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As the prospect of a lengthy spell in lockdown stretches out ahead of us, many of us will be seeking out sources of inspiration to see us through. When Progeny Director Frances Davies set out to row the Atlantic in 2016, she probably didn’t expect the experience to come in useful in a global pandemic four years later. Watch her story to find out what crossing one of the world’s biggest oceans can teach us about stamina, solitude and digging deep.

You can read more about Frances’ record breaking journey here.

We recently played this video in our all-staff meeting. Here’s what Frances had to say afterwards, drawing parallels between her experience on the Atlantic and now enduring the coronavirus lockdown…

Although I’m no expert in a lockdown situation, I do have experience of sixty seven days of voluntary self-isolation. In the video you see the size of the little cabin that we were in during the storm – we were actually trapped in there for seventy two hours continuously with virtually no distraction. We had iPods with us which had some music on them, but as the batteries ran down, we couldn’t use those and we didn’t want to waste the boat’s battery power by charging our own iPods, so we just had to sit tight and entertain ourselves.

In terms of tips for getting through all of this, the thing that got us through on the boat were two words really: discipline and routine. I’d caution people against staying up late and getting up too early, because in the video you could see the dangers of sleep deprivation. We had to cut that video quite short because it goes on for quite some time in exactly the same manner.

We made sure that when we were safe we would row two hour shifts, twenty four hours a day for over ten weeks, and not one of us ever missed a single shift. Being able to break down the day into those two-hour sessions made all the difference to us – it made the days not exactly whiz past, but they didn’t pass as slowly.

I think we also talked a lot before we started. We made a very positive decision that we were going to thrive and not just survive, which is what we’re all trying to do now during coronavirus.

We will come out of this much stronger than we were when we went in, which has a really good parallel to the decision making that we made on the boat.

We also found solace in laughing whenever anything went wrong. It was our first thought to laugh about it, and then to try to find a solution to the issue.

There were lots of low moments; there were times when the auto helm broke, that was very disappointing, and when the spare auto helm also broke, that was also very disappointing. But I think you often find that when things go wrong the learning opportunities are there and it gives you a real opportunity to find a workaround when you’re in a pressure situation. You always find a solution, and it might not be the first thing that you think about, but somehow in the end you find a workaround.

I think the thing that made us really thrive as well was that we communicated with each other. The danger sometimes in situations like this is when people don’t want to admit to any negative thoughts, but it’s not helpful vocalising negative thoughts in a positive way. It’s just as important to stay upbeat as much as you can.

It’s good to confine in people when you are feeling a little bit low. The chances of everyone feeling low at the same time is minimal, and there will always be someone who can boost you and help you. We also found that breaking things down into bite-sized pieces is really important, in the same way as if someone had said to us at the very beginning of this lockdown it’s going to be six weeks or more, it sounds like a long time to be locked down, in the same way 3000 miles across the ocean is a lot. But we broke it down into 50-mile chunks and we celebrated each one the same way we should celebrate getting through each day and each week and then each month and celebrating those small wins is really really important. On the boat we did it with a sip of mango gin!

You saw how we were in that cabin for 72 hours. Coming out on the deck once the storm had cleared was an amazing feeling. So, I think if you’re really struggling with the lockdown, why not take the weekend and stay in just one room? Take all your food into that one room and don’t come out of that room. Because when you come out of it on Monday morning, your house will feel like a mansion. If the feeling we get when we come out of the lockdown is anything at all like the feeling we had when we rode into Antigua at the end, it will be worth the wait.

Did you miss our last video? Watch it here: Progeny CEO Answers Clients’ Most Common Questions

Author Frances Davies

Director, Private Law

Frances specialises in tax and succession planning for high-net-worth multi-generational families, and for business owners seeking to protect their assets and to find ways to pass their wealth on to future generations.

Learn more about Frances Davies

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