21 Yaks and a Speedo by ocean advocate and pioneering swimmer Lewis Pugh is a collection of short stories, called Yaks, about how to achieve what might first seem impossible. Each story illustrates a lesson that Lewis and his team have learned from one of his many swimming expeditions.
21 Yaks and a Speedo is a light and enjoyable read. I would recommend it to Open Water swimmers and anyone looking for the inspiration to excel.
On testing our assumptions…
Lewis says one of the most valuable lessons he learned was to always ask what assumptions he’s making [about an expedition] and to test whether those assumptions are valid. He explains that you never know how a situation is going to change, and you can never have a perfect plan, so be prepared to adapt.
On limiting beliefs…
I was fortunate enough to see Lewis speak at the Graduate School of Business in October. He made two important points that evening. First, when we have limiting beliefs we take on a defeatist attitude. Second, when we have limiting beliefs, we don’t ask for help. In the book, Lewis tells an unusual story (Yak 12) about the boat rudder breaking in the Maldives to explain this lesson. He says we must be open to all possibilities.
“There’s nothing more powerful than a made-up mind.”
“I love swimming. I love the action of swimming. I love the feeling of diving into cold water, and getting invigorated and refreshed.” As a swimmer I loved this statement. I would add that the feeling of being relaxed in water, moving almost effortlessly when you’re fit is second to none.
“There will always be hundreds of reasons to quit, especially towards the end, when things get very tough. Think of just ONE reason to keep on going – it will make all the difference!”
“Never plan for victory and defeat in your mind at the same time.”
The English Channel swim starts in Dover.
Roald Amundsen was the first person ever to reach the South Pole.
Lewis was the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world.
Lewis did a 50-school country-wide speaking tour of South Africa to spread his message of conserving the world’s oceans, and to practice public speaking. He calls his first speech a “disaster.” He has since gone on to become an international motivational speaker. Below is his first TED talk, one that really inspired me.
Lewis on Twitter
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