What has gone wrong with us?

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Rona Cant reminds us that it is people that matter, not possessions

It’s the little things that make a big difference.  When we raced our yacht around the world in the BT Global Challenge there were times when I found life very difficult – away from my children, in the middle of an ocean, dealing with a big storm and the yacht being picked up by one wave and tossed to the next as if it were a paper boat – the yachts weighed 45 tonnes, so not that small then! Coming to grips with the watch system – four hours on/ four hours off throughout the night and six hours on and six hours off during the day – it was relentless.   You come off watch and climb into your sleeping bag when you hear the cry ‘All hands on deck!’  This meant we were in trouble and were needed on deck to save the yacht – if we didn’t save the yacht we wouldn’t to save ourselves.

We had to write our wills before we set sail.

When on deck we kept an eye on the other people on our watch so that we knew where they were and if they slipped or fell we could go to their aid. We made sure that everything that needed to be done was done even if it was someone else’s job.  When you are racing you cannot say ‘That’s Fred’s job, he can do it when he comes back.’ The job had to be done now and if we were there we did it.  We always kept a weather eye out for our fellow crew.

If we saw someone struggling we would always go and help them.  If someone was finding the race hard and they were missing their family back home we would go and talk to them and get them back on track again.  The camaraderie was great and we know that if we meet we would carry on from where we left off.

So why am I telling you this?  I feel that we have lost sight of many things that made this country and the people in it so great.  We have lost our direction and we have forgotten what life is all about.

I can remember my parents saying to me ‘it’s the little things that mean a lot’. It is a fact that everyone seems to be so busy nowadays. We seem to be racing around and no one has a chance to really ‘see’ someone else.  What is the point in us working hard to achieve, to earn lots of money and then to ignore what is really happening in the world and to forget why we are here – what is our purpose?

Last week I went to the supermarket to do my weekly shop but there was a challenge – and part of it was my fault.  I had lost sight of doing the right thing!

A mother had put her child into the shopping trolley in order to do her shopping.  It became fairly obvious that the child did not like this at all and she was really distressed.   She screamed ‘Get me out of here. I don’t want to be here.’ The mother was in a hurry and ignored her.  The screaming got worse.  Other ‘mothers’ were looking at each other and getting upset for the child, myself included.  It was an awful experience.  Yet not one of us asked the mother if we could be of help to her.  She was upset and so were most of the mothers – it was so distressing.  I busied myself with my shopping to get away.

Yet I was brought up to help people.

It took me two days to realise that I could easily have asked the mother whether there was something I could do to relieve the situation. Why didn’t I? Because I was upset.  Had I offered my help, the child could have been taken out of the trolley and everyone would have felt better – there were many options.  It’s the people that matter, not possessions, and we should offer to help others.  It allows them the luxury of accepting the help or not.

Not to offer is wrong.

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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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