Check what they say is what they mean!

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Rona Cant shares a cautionary tale of resilience and perseverance

As children we have faith that our parents will look after us, pick us up when we fall, bathe our knees, give us a cuddle, get us back into order and send us out into the world again to explore, learn, play and fall down before the whole cycle starts again. They are our heroes, we feel loved and cherished and while the world is our oyster we have a safe haven for shelter until we are brave enough to go and take our chance again. It’s called life and it can be exciting, terrifying at times, comforting, a dream come true.

However, sometimes there’s a time when things change and those comforting hugs are not there, which could be for many reasons. What do we do in those situations? How do we deal with it? Maybe our friends will pat us back into shape again and send us out into the big world to take our chance again – as did our parents. We have to remember that our friends may well be going through something bigger or more traumatic so we have to stand on our own two feet. It makes us realize we will have to deal with everything thrown at us. We choose to ‘go with the flow’ or to ‘buck the trend’ (OK no more clichés).

Often if we look at one of these situations in the cold light of day we will see it is not what we thought it was but in the ‘horror’ of the moment it becomes a big Ogre – perhaps insurmountable in our thoughts.

What action should we take? If it is not life threatening then we could look at it factually is one route. Often when we pause and take that action the challenge shrinks and we can see a solution. But sometimes it is not something that we can deal with on our own – we need experts, someone who can point us in the right direction and guide us through to the other side. This could be a friend, expert, a bystander (they can see it factually whilst we are emotional), someone detached from the incident.

When we were racing our yacht in the BT Global Challenge it was amazing how our attitude changed and what was big on dry land was minute at sea. Recently I have been involved in two accidents neither of my making. The first one is relatively small. The supermarket was busy and parking spaces were at a premium. I was putting my heavy shopping into the car when an impatient lady decided I should move a trolley blocking her way. Before I could do anything she decided to proceed and knocked the trolley into my car causing £400 of damage. We exchanged particulars and could I email the quote etc. Once she had the quote – guess what – she declared that the vibrations from her car caused the trolley to move and the damage to my car had nothing to do with her. Did you enjoy that? I had to laugh. It was annoying but I have better things to do than deal with people like that.

The other accident was somewhat bigger. I was crossing a road – yes it was clear – when a cyclist knocked me down. 75 hospital appointments, 18 months on, three front teeth knocked out, one wrist broken and three dislocated bones, I landed on my left side my head narrowly missing the kerb (otherwise I would be dead now – not such a good result) which means it is hard to locate words and remember things, I lost all my confidence and crossing any road became a nightmare. The cyclist said he was not culpable so the police did not prosecute him – I thought they were meant to be on my side.

But I had insurance and called them – they confirmed I was covered and pointed to the relevant page. Several times I called and got the same answer, replacing teeth is expensive! However, when I started to claim it turned out that I was only covered if they could recover the cost from the cyclist. Nowhere in my booklet does it say that. He took out membership of CTC three weeks after the accident giving him £10m insurance but too late for me.I am still working on getting back to the me I was (with some improvements of course!) This is a challenge too far. An expensive 18 months. So please, check your own documents.

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About Author

Rona Cant

Rona Cant is an explorer, international speaker and author. Once an unexceptional, middle-aged single parent she became a round-the-world yachtswoman by competing in the BT Global Challenge Round the World Yacht Race (the toughest yacht race in the world). For the last 10 years she has been putting together programmes on leadership and teamwork, and motivating businesses and individuals to get out of their comfort zone and reach their potential based on the lessons learnt on her expeditions. Her second book, Snow, Sleds & Silence – the Story of the Nordkapp Expedition describes the ups and downs of her epic adventure on this trail, which lead her to establish Arctic Leadership Challenges which offers experiential training inside the Arctic Circle for individuals and teams.

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