Top 5 – Career lessons learned from Two Boys in a Boat

Top 5 Career Lessons from Two Boys in a Boat

Last week, Luke Birch and Jamie Sparks, aka 2boysinaboat, became the new Guinness World Record holders for the youngest pair ever to row across the Atlantic, as they completed the Talisker Whisky Challenge.

The boys spent a total of 54 days at sea, rowed 2,811 nautical miles in 1,302 hours, endured badly blistered hands, serious bouts of seasickness, battled 40ft waves, groups of killer-sharks (and slightly less killer-dolphins) and raised a staggering £306,000 for Breast Cancer Care.

To help celebrate the boys’ amazing achievement, we’ve decided to look at some of the lessons learned from their incredible journey:

1. Set yourself a goal

First things first: in order to get anywhere in your career, it’s important to maintain a clear sense of direction. If you know exactly where you want to go in your professional life, you can then start to work out how to get there.

One person’s goal might be to get a pay rise or to finally get that long-promised promotion. Another person’s might be to row across the Atlantic with their best friend in a boat the size of a bathtub. Each to their own.

The important thing is to have one. That way, there’s always something to work towards.

2. Obstacles are just another way to learn

No matter what stage of your career you’ve reached, there will always be obstacles to overcome.

For the two boys, these obstacles included a broken auto helm (for the nautically uninitiated, this is the gear which helps steer the boat – making rowing much easier), losing their mattress to the Atlantic Ocean, a barnacle encrusted hull, which required hand cleaning, and some nasty sores in particularly painful places (read their blog section for more info).

In comparison, your obstacles may seem slightly more mundane, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be any more manageable.

Whatever hindrance you encounter, approach it with a healthy dose of optimism, versatility and, perhaps most importantly, a willingness to learn from any mistakes you make. In Luke’s words: ‘stay calm and wait for the clouds to clear’.

Remember: You can’t run away from your problems. Unless they’re sharks…

3. Appreciate the little victories

Instead of getting bogged down with disasters, it’s important to appreciate life’s little victories.

However, as simple as the above statement sounds, it can often be easier said than done. For example, if your day involves a lot of repetition, it can be easy to get caught up in the little things without thinking of the bigger picture. 

For you, it might be celebrating an important client win with a few drinks or taking particular pride in a customer testimonial. In Luke and Jamie’s case, it was taking a break from the usual rehydrated shepherd’s pie and rewarding themselves with a Pepperami.

Learn to love the little things that go right and celebrate, rather than dwelling on the things that go wrong.

4. Find a distraction that works for you

Much like your career, rowing from one continent to another can be an exhilarating experience. It can also get pretty dull.

Even if you have a job you love, there may be times when you either need to knuckle down to get something done or break up the day’s stress with a little R&R.

The boys used audiobooks, music and messages from well-wishers to help spur them on. But everyone has a different method to help them maintain their drive. Even something as simple as finding somewhere quiet to work for an hour, grabbing a quick coffee or keeping up with the latest news on Twitter can help stimulate your creativity. 

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what kind of music world-record-breaking rowers listen to: Lionel Richie, Diana Ross and Drum and Bass (although not necessarily in that order).

5. It will all be worth it in the end

When attempting to row across the Atlantic Ocean, some people (and by ‘some people’, we mean Luke and Jamie) may decide to adopt the two hours on/two hours off approach. In layman’s terms, this means you spend two hours rowing followed by two hours eating/sleeping/washing until it’s your turn on the oars again.

Now we’re not suggesting that salty sores or severe sleep deprivation is part of everyone’s normal working life*, but whether you’re just starting out on your job search or working every hour available to get a piece of work finished, your career can seem like an uphill battle at times.

However, just like the two boys, the journey will be worth it in the end. Hard work and dedication do pay off. And Luke and Jamie are living proof. (Unfortunately cannot guarantee your journey will end in Antigua surrounded by your friends and family).

Honourable mentions: Learn to put things into perspective, never underestimate resilience, be persistent, pay attention to dress code (castaway beards are good, but small pink pants are a definite no-no).

*if salty sores or severe sleep deprivation is part of your everyday working life, we recommend you seek help. Immediately.

Want to find out more about their amazing journey? Visit their official site now