debra searle Rowing-Adventure RS

Kate Cox

Choose your attitude

To get a better idea of the things that motivate our team, we set them a challenge; ‘In no more than 300 words, describe something that inspires you.’ The best entry would win an inspiring Date-at-the-Tate, an all-expenses-paid day out at Henri Matisse’s "The Cut-Outs" exhibition. We knew we had some great strategic and creative thinkers, but the response was overwhelming, humbling and heartening; I don’t mind admitting to a little lump in my throat as I leafed through stories of bravery, dedication and tenderness.

But there was one that stood out in particular; so without preamble, here it is in full:


My inspiration – by Katherine Almond

Debra Searle spent four years planning the adventure of a lifetime, the Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Challenge, which she was going to do with her beefy, 6’5” international oarsman husband.

All their life savings were sunk into the project. And then after just eight days at sea, he developed uncontrollable anxiety and had to be rescued.

Debra decided to carry on alone.

She had to cope with a complete change of plan, a big disappointment in her personal life, and an extended period of solitude (111 days as it turned out).

Three letters kept her going.  She painted them right where she would see them every day as she rowed.  

C. Y. A.

Choose Your Attitude.

Life can throw some incredibly curved balls. Sometimes we need to be strong and fight. God knows, I’ve been told that enough as I have faced nasty invasive breast cancer. Other times, though, we have to be a bit gentler on ourselves. And if we are, we will discover the “utter peace, beauty and endless amounts of grace” that Debra spoke of when she finally made it to the other side. Her story has shown me how attitude influences outcome.


Watch Debra Searle’s TEDx talk from 2012, here.

And here's Katherine enjoying her 'Date at the Tate', upstaging a picture of Henri Matisse.

Katherine Almond, a person who in my view embodies this story’s message of positivity better than anyone, is Bray Leino's Head of Insight.

Kate Cox
CEO, Bray Leino

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