Archive for the ‘Self Improvement’ category

Greatness Is Daring To Fail

November 30, 2006

An early morning chill pricked at Matthew’s lean muscular frame, as he stood contemplating the task that stretched before him.  A task, difficult in the extreme, and he shivered again as the realisation that he might soon be dead, began to gnaw at his forebrain like a dog persistently worrying a bone.

He felt slightly ill, as a whiff of porpoise oil rose to assault his nostrils, but as the morning light started its slow incremental climb to full intensity, he tried to ignore the butterflies in his stomach which had turned into cormorants diving headlong into the sea of his intestines.  He knew he must be going, but he had an irrational twinge of near hysteria and the sudden urge to turn and charge up the beach to the safety of the tiny cubicle.

He shivered yet again, but padded forward across the shingle and slipped into the cold unwelcoming sea.  Slightly ahead of him, he could hear the slap of the oars of the two man rowing boat as the first onrushing waves lifted its bow from the water, returning it just as suddenly to the following trough.

He concentrated on pressing on through the waves, determined to break through to the calmer and deeper water beyond, succeeding suddenly with a little start of surprise as his head and vision suddenly cleared.

The light was slightly brighter now, and the sounds of gulls wheeling overhead mingled with the crisp salt spray as the light wind lifted little petulant droplets from the tips of the waves callously tossing them skywards.  Matthew focused, his arms and legs assuming a mechanical motion almost of their own accord as he gradually slipped forwards trailing the lonely rowboat moving slowly across the miles of desolate water stretching to the horizon.

Time blurred, and his thoughts turned to firstly to his eleven brothers and sisters and then to his father, a doctor, a man of great respect in his home town of Coalbrookdale.  His father and mother though supportive of their son, had never really accepted or understood the driving ambition that drove their equally respected son, a Captain in the Merchant Navy and of the modern steamship ‘Emerald’ to such desperate lengths.  His constant compulsion to try something new, to excel, unbeknown to him, caused his dear mother many a night crying herself to sleep in the arms of her husband, and his father many a lonely night of contemplation.

The wind had picked up now, and the sky turned darker and angrier.  The little boat in front began to disappear and reappear as the sea commenced to heave and buck.  Somehow the sea seemed colder too, and Matthew felt the first pangs of fatigue nip at his limbs as he began to struggle to keep pace with the little rowboat.

His thoughts turned to what started him on this life of adventure, and to the time whilst serving as a second mate on the Cunard ship ‘Russia’ travelling the Atlantic between New York and Liverpool.  A man had fallen overboard, and he had dived into the sea in Mid-Atlantic in a valiant but failed attempt at rescue.

The man was never found, but Matthew suddenly found himself at the centre of the British Press with an award of £100 pounds, the Stanhope Gold Medal, and a notoriety, which frankly he suddenly seemed not to be able to get enough of.

He was still grinning when the slap of a particularly large wave brought him back to reality.  The sea was becoming really angry now.  The sky had darkened over and the wind had begun to howl like a demented demon.  Ahead the little rowboat had seen the danger and it had fallen back towards him.  In the lowering visibility Matthew could see the larger backup boat had now joined them, and that could only mean one thing, an abandonment of the record attempt due to the increasing strong winds and poor sea conditions.

Reluctantly he pulled himself up into the rowboat as it drew alongside him, and slowly and despondently the little rowboat headed towards its larger companion and to safety.  He had failed.

Two sharp stings rocketed Matthew’s thoughts firmly back to the present.  Today was the 24th August and the events of twelve days ago were still engraved into his brain.

Unfortunately, today was much better weather and he wasn’t tiring just as quickly, but in his daydreaming he had drifted into a shoal of jellyfish, and worse although he could see the shore, strong currents were preventing him from approaching Cap Griz-Nez.  If he didn’t begin to make some progress soon, he might be forced into another abandonment, and, it was beginning to get dark.

He gritted his teeth, pausing a moment to take stock.  The three chase boats with him on this attempt were also struggling with the current and were being pushed towards Calais.  Resigned now not to quit, Matthew turned and focused his attention on Calais, trying to ignore the numerous stings that were accumulating over his chest and limbs, each sting reinforcing his iron determination to succeed where before there had been only thoughts of failure.

Five hours later, and after a gruelling 21 hours and 45 minutes in the water, and in darkness, Matthew Webb staggered out of the water near Calais, the first person to swim the English Channel on the 25th August in the year of our Lord 1875.

Nothing great is easy, and Captain Matthew Webb had dared to fail.

This is a fictional account written from researched facts and I have taken liberties with the telling of the story.  This is an original work.  I hope you enjoyed it.

By Mark McGimpsey 


Be Thankful – Today Is A Great Day

November 24, 2006

Just a little something I wanted to share with you – It’s not mine but it is inspiring.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.  His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.  They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his room mate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.  The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.  Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats.  Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.  Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it.  In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of  the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.  She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window.  The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.  Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.  He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.  It looked out onto roof tops.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.  The nurse responded that the man was blind, and said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.  Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.

Today is a gift, that’s why it is called the PRESENT.


Masterful Time Management Tips

November 24, 2006

Everyone has 24 hours to each and every day, so how come some manage to do more with their time than others?

The secret is simpler than you realise, it’s putting it into practice by eliminating distractions that is the greatest challenge.  The truth is everyone is challenged by managing their time.  It is not easy to juggle all your commitments, and everyone has their own challenges, be it business or personal.  Simply make an effort to change, and follow these simple tips, and you will immediately see a difference in your productivity.

Your priorities are in two areas, business and personal.  Unfortunately your personal priorities can change at a moments notice and impact on your daily plans, so expect this, and if possible make allowances and plan ahead.  It helps your stress levels.

Also you will find that your priorities fall into two distinct zones, immediate and accumulating.  Anything outside this is not a priority.  These other tasks are adaptable in that you can fit them in around your priorities whenever it suits.

Don’t rely on your memory.  It’s too easy again to be distracted and forget.  Carry a small hardback notebook, or a Personal Digital Assistant, and make notes of any ideas, or thoughts of importance before you forget.  How many times have you said, “I remember thinking I had to … but it slipped my mind.”

Each evening before you go to bed, empty your mind and spend a few minutes writing down and going over what you put in your notebook.

Now here’s the secret – Prioritise everything, and do your absolute best to dispose of your top priorities the following day.  Identify your accumulating priorities, and try to do something with them the following day, even if it is only a small amount of time.  For example, if you are a one person operation, consider allocating 5 minutes updating your accounts, rather than leaving them to turn into a top priority which requires days of addressing.  Do this each night and I guarantee you will sleep easier.

If you can, break down your tasks into areas, or modules, and delegate or outsource if you can.  Delegate or outsource as much as you possibly dare. 

If you can, schedule at least one 30 – 45 minute break somewhere in your daily schedule above and beyond timeout for meals.  Use this space for emergency rescheduling of appointments, working on your flexi-tasks, or simply as a stress buster break if you need it.  If your child is unwell going to school, perhaps that emergency break should be before noon that day.  As I said, try to plan ahead if you can.

Eliminate distraction, prioritise everything, and plan for the unexpected.  Time management is not easy, but it is relatively simple to take steps to make your day a more enjoyable and productive one.

Article by Mark McGimpsey

Fear Is The Mind Killer

November 21, 2006


In the words of a sci-fi film, “Fear is the mind killer.  There is nothing to fear, but fear itself!”

Anyone remember the film?  It was “Dune”.

It has often been said the fear we feel when attempting something new, is the fear of failure, of rejection, or of appearing foolish.  It might not be a life-threatening fear, but it has been with us for as long as we can remember.  As children, (in my generation anyway), if you made a mistake in primary school, you stood a good chance of a ruler across the knuckles for ‘not listening’.

We were taught from an early age – don’t take the risk, everyone will laugh at you, in fact the fear of failure became so bad at times, (because of the resultant whack over the knuckles), that I was so scared of the ‘result’, I couldn’t get the words out, even though I knew the answer.

You know I read a book once, a great book called, “Think and Grow Rich.”  A great book full of great advice, but you know what I have found any time I have been faced with a challenge where I might be made to look foolish.  I’ve found the opposite to be true, don’t think, do!”  Think later.

The more you think about it, the more excuses you can think up, not to do it.  It’s not quite the right time, everything’s not quite in place.  I might fail.

I’ve been thinking about this, and I have come to the conclusion that success in anything doesn’t come about by thinking about it, the ‘Paralysis Analysis’ approach, but getting out there and getting something started.  More often than not you find that ‘Fear’ is nothing more than what people have been telling you all along – ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’.

I think it was Socrates who said that ‘Action equals knowledge’, so this is not a radical new concept, but in fact a secret of hundreds of years old.

I might think I could write an article, but before I get thinking of too many excuses to fail, I find that if I stick my neck out and jump in, the article gets written.  Perhaps not well enough for a Pulitzer Prize, but it gets done!

Do you think my grammar and spelling are perfect?  I use the spell checker my friend.

I’m a private pilot.  You realise of course that at some point, the trainee student has to take the aircraft up on their own?  Go ‘Solo’.  I guarantee there are not many situations you will find yourself in that are as frightening.

So how did I get to be a pilot?  I overcame my fear of flying alone, by doing it alone the minute the instructor stepped out and said, “You’re ready, away you go!”  If I’d thought about it, I guarantee you I wouldn’t be a pilot today.  I flew that aircraft shaking like a leaf, saying to myself, “Now you’ve done it, you fool!  You have to get down again!”  If I had thought about it for any length of time, I think I might honestly say that today, I might still be thinking about it.

I guess my point in writing this article is to encourage you not to think just do.

If you shoot for the stars, you might just hit the moon.

Article by Mark McGimpsey