WGS 2016: Lewis Pugh’s Inspirational Journey Lends Perspective on Overcoming Life’s Challenges

Tuesday 09 February 2016
Lewis Pugh

Dubai – MENA Herald: “Follow your own dreams, not someone else’s,” saidocean advocate, maritime lawyer and a pioneer swimmer Lewis Pugh while recounting the advice his friend and coach lent him, when he found himself at crossroads between a successful career as a maritime lawyer and a greater calling that he yearned for.
Pugh spoke about the inherent mix of humility and confidence, an unrelenting pursuit for excellence, unparalleled skill, a sense of humor and passion as being essential traits of team players at a talk titled ‘Crash Course on Life’ on the second day of the World Government Summit.
The motivational and gripping account of his endurance swimming expeditions in three diverse environments which he described as the coldest, highest and most beautiful locations in the world have lessons for anyone who find themselves too overwhelmed to learn from happenings in the world.
Lewis Pugh’s father’s experience as a surgeon in England’s Royal Navy brought him at close counters with animals suffering the effects of radiation, in areas where the UK conducted nuclear testing. This prompted his decision to immigrate to South Africa where the children family spent countless vacations visiting national parks and wildlife reserves. These formative years instilled in Pugh an innate love for nature.
Several years later, this passion for earth’s natural beauty directed Pugh’s calling to pursue the issue of climate change by swimming in extreme conditions across many of the world’s coldest and most hostile waters.
He highlighted the importance of not quitting close to the end, being adaptable to change, and more significantly the role played by one’s subconscious mind in helping achieve feats that are otherwise humanly impossible.
While attempting the first ever long distance endurance swim in North Pole, where Pugh swam a kilometer in the Arctic Ocean, he realized that as a pioneer he didn’t have the benefit of knowing what could happen next. He cited the importance of visualization during his months spent training for the swim in the Namibian desert, which helped him build his mindset along with his physical strength to swim for over 18 minutes in water where the temperature was -1.7 degree Celsius.
“For real and effective change, there needs to be a complete change in mindset,” said Pugh as he elaborated on his experience swimming in the glacier lake at Mt. Everest, where his coach pushed him to undergo a radical tactical change in his strategy to swim in low oxygen conditions.
He concluded with an anecdote about his experience swimming in Maldives, where the boat carrying the crew accompanying him on the swim broke down, and was drifting with the current towards a likely collision with nearby coral reef.
At Pugh’s suggestion, his coach reached out to the office of billionaire owner of Chelsea -Roman Abramovich to seek the assistance of his yacht which was docked nearby in the Indian Ocean. He was surprised to find that in under 30 minutes, the yacht was deployed to assist his crew and accompanied him through the final leg of his swim through the islands of the Maldives.
Lewis Pugh was disappointed that he didn’t make the call to Abramovich’s office himself – but realized that he didn’t act because of the deep rooted ‘limiting belief’ within him. When he asked his coach what prompted him to take the leap of faith, his response was truly inspirational: “I have always gone through life believing that everyone wants to help me,”
The World Government Summit has convened over 3,000 personalities from 125 countries. The summit is examining over 70 topics through keynote speakers and major interactive sessions, drawing the participation of world leaders, ministers, decision makers, CEOs, innovators, officials, experts, entrepreneurs, academics, and university students. A number of initiatives, reports and studies are also being issued during the summit and throughout the year. The summit runs from February 8 – 10, 2016 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.

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