All Insights


Incredible Brain Power

Debra Searle MBE

4 January 2024

Debra Searle MVO, MBE is one of the most booked female speakers in the UK  with over a decade of experience, having delivered to over 1000 companies worldwide and spoken for TEDx Salford. Here she shares with us her thoughts on choosing the right attitude and the incredible power of our brains.


Isn’t it incredible?

We have these amazing brains that keep us breathing and process thousands upon thousands of thoughts a day. Even a smell can conjure up really detailed memories from our childhoods, and yet we still manage to forget the most incredible things too.

Fifteen years ago I rowed the Atlantic alone. Now, that hadn’t been the plan – I’d set out as part of a two-person team along with my partner. He was just what a rower should be – tall, muscular, an experienced oarsman. But a few days into our row it became clear that he had developed a crippling fear of the ocean and would have to be rescued. To everyone’s surprise, I decided to continue alone…

Sleeping compartment, stove, solar panels, water purifier and washing line! Everything you could possibly need squeezed into a 23 foot long boat.

I’ve just spent a couple of days locked in my office, preparing for a speech I have coming up next month. Even though it’s my day job to talk about the motivational strategies that I developed when I was out there on my tiny little boat, sometimes I forget just how powerful they can be – and how they have changed my life – not only because (spoiler alert!) I completed my row, but also because they have kept me going in the three successful businesses I have founded since finding myself back on dry land.

I’ve spoken at nearly 1,000 conferences in 38 countries – it’s such an honour to speak to organisations about how the lessons I learned on the Atlantic can help their teams achieve success, too.

I wanted to take a few minutes to unpack a few of them for you – let’s call them a New Years gift – I hope that they really help you to achieve your goals in 2017…

Choose your attitude!

This is a practical exercise I developed that I used every morning, and still use every morning now. I had every reason to have a rotten attitude after three and a half months alone at sea in a plywood rowing boat! I believe I made it because I chose my attitude daily and I chose the way I responded to the obstacles I faced. I had a trigger to remind me to make the choice written on the cabin hatch that I faced every day as I rowed. I’m convinced that if we choose the right attitude, even when faced with what can sometimes feel like insurmountable hurdles, anything is possible.

Free Words – The Antidote to Toxic Talent Moaning!

My favourite tool. Without the encouragement of my support team I couldn’t have kept my oars in motion. They set up a link through my satellite phone company so that anyone with a PC could text me. Even strangers joined in, for example, a young man who was in hospital on dialysis gifted me with his free words – the power of those words kept me going. If you choose to foster a culture of Free Words – whether it be in your team at work, your family, or even your friendship group – I have absolute faith that amazing things will be achieved.

Arrival Scene Movie – See Yourself Achieving!

Daily, sometimes hourly, I visualised the moment when I would achieve my goal, rowing in to the harbour in Barbados and being reunited with my family. I use this all the time now in my home and business life. I think it’s so important we can visualise it to keep us going in the dark times but also, as a team member, so we learn to verbalise a shared vision.

Being awarded an MBE and an MVO is something that I’d never dreamed possible!

Using some of these strategies has enabled me to achieve things that I never thought possible – and I believe that they can make a real difference for you, too.


For more information on Debra Searle click here, or contact our team at

Debra Searle MBE


Debra Searle MVO MBE is a professional adventurer and serial entrepreneur. Her expeditions have taken her across the Atlantic, around Antarctica, up to the Arctic Circle and everywhere in between. 

View Profile