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President's Corner - November 2018


I love taking the time each month to share with my ATD family what’s on my heart and mind. I would be remiss this month if I didn’t share a story that I recently heard. I found it riveting and stimulating, and as always, I couldn’t help but see an ATD connection.

The lady is Debra Searle and I heard her share her story while attending the John Maxwell Live 2 Lead event. Hers is a story of daring, adventure, and inspiration. Debra and her then husband Andrew decided to enter the Atlantic Rowing Challenge, a 3,000-mile double-handed rowing race from Tenerife to Barbados. Debra had no prior rowing experience, but her husband had been part of a rowing team at University. They practiced for months on the river Thames for this expected 6-week journey. Of all the dangers they anticipated and planned for, one that they never saw coming threatened their trip almost immediately. After sailing out of the safe environs of Tenerife, Andrew discovered he had a debilitating phobia of being on the open waters in such a small craft. Yeah, seriously! He could not function and could find no solace or escape, so they had no choice—they had to radio for assistance. But once her husband was tended to, there was a choice that Debra made that surprised even herself: She would complete the journey. Alone. Yes: alone!

The ensuing trip was harrowing by any sailor’s standards. Turbulent waters, two hurricanes, and constant loneliness. Debra found that she had to conquer her fears and keep going one moment at a time … and then the next moment … and then the next. A journey of overcoming incredible odds. After 111 days, show rowed into Barbados to a welcoming crowd. 

Just as fascinating as what she faced is what she did to conquer her fears along the way.

What kept her going?

  • Setting and accomplishing daily goals
  • Focusing on others’ inspirational quotes
  • Keeping a positive attitude

These are what got her to the finish line. These are what raised her above her fears and helped her find out what she could accomplish.

And then … there’s ATD (told you I would find the connection). We’re not in the middle of the ocean and we’re not quite so alone. But as learning professionals, we daily face down our fears and make progress on our journey. What are you doing to get through today? How is today getting you closer to the end of your journey? I would like to suggest that ATD offers you resources to help you on this path.

  • Take a look at our chapter calendar and determine what events you need to make time for.
  • Check out our Communities of Practice and see which of these will bring you alongside a likeminded cohort.
  • Browse the ATD National Bookstore and locate resources that will keep you on track. (And don’t forget to check out with our chapter ChIP CH9047 to allocate part of your spend back to our chapter.)

I’m glad we’re not alone on our journeys.

Anchors Away!

Julie Padgett
Chapter President