Build Success by Doing the Impossible: how to grow as a person (and your business) when faced with what seem to be impossible obstacles.

I don’t know about you, but I just love stories about Personal Growth. There’s so much to learn from people that overcome difficulties and greatly grow along the way. Like today’s guest: Carol Hampshire.

Read about how her experiences allowed her to Build Success by Doing the Impossible.

Build Your Success by Doing the Impossible

On a misty, overcast day in April 2016, I found myself in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with just a costume, goggles, and swimming cap. I was attempting one of the toughest, most extreme long-distance cold water swimming races in the world, between Robben Island and Big Bay beach Cape Town, South Africa.


It wasn’t the distance of 7.5km/4.6 miles that makes this one of the hardest swims for a novice open water swimmer like myself, it was the extremely cold water temperature combined with plenty of marine life, including sharks.

On that day the water temperature was 13 degrees/55 Fahrenheit, which took my breath away when I plunged into to water at the start of the swim. The longer I swam, the more body heat I lost which in turn reduced my core body temperature.

It had taken me 90 minutes to reach this half-way point and quickly I started to feel the effects of hyperthermia creeping up on me. The cold water had stopped feeling cold and later found out my core temperature was dangerously low.

The constant swell was making me feel disorientated and seasick. I knew it was vital that I eat or drink something to give me strength to carry on, but I just could not get over my nausea.

Thankfully the thousands of majestic jellyfish that were lurking just under the water’s surface was keeping my mind off the sharks, but only just.

It looked liked I was swimming through a scene narrated by David Attenborough. I had been stung a few times already, but at least the cold had a numbing effect and I was not in any pain.

At this point in my story, you might be asking why on earth would anyone put themselves through such extreme torture.

I was thinking exactly the same thing at that exact moment.

The funny thing was, at absolutely no point did I consider climbing into my support boat that was close to me at all times or regret not wearing a wetsuit.

Was it this stubborn trait that helped give me the courage to start my own business 20 years ago? That helped me decide to become a single mom 17 years ago? That was the driving force behind deciding to take on this epic swim in the first place?

Very possibly.

I had been told many times by my open water swimming friends that this swim was a mental one, not a physical one. And that is exactly what excited me about this challenge in the first place.

I am a firm believer that unless we challenge ourselves we will never have the opportunity to see how many things we think impossible, are actually possible.

So while I was bobbing around in the cold ocean, too nauseous to swim, and my body fatiguing fast, my mind started to calm down and began to wander. Unknown to me at the time, this is when the magic starts to happen, in an abyss of the unknown.

Robben Island originally housed a prison many years ago I thought about the many inmates who looked into the distance towards the mainland, dreaming of escape and freedom.

Nelson Mandela was a prisoner on Robben Island for 27 years one of his famous quoted is: “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.

I wondered if he ever witnessed or heard stories of open water swimmers who swam from the island to shore.

Did he imagine that at the core of freedom, is the ability to overcome what you perceive to be impossible?

I finally saw the welcoming flags on the beach and saw people congratulating the successful swimmers who were getting out the water.

I had no physical power left, I had no inspiring words to edge me on, I just imagined feeling my feet touching the sand. That was it. Nothing more. It was all I had left at that point and it was exactly what I needed to take me to shore.

I did it – I finished and it was humbling.

The swim I completed was a combination of physical, mental and spiritual strength, as it’s your spirit that is able to lead you forward when your physical being and mental ability are weak.

So whatever goals you want to achieve in life, just remember that anything is impossible.

Ask yourself, how would it FEEL to achieve that goal?

Hold onto that one feeling when everything else fails, when you think you have nothing left. Your spirit will never fail you.

What can you do today to get out of your comfort zone, expand yourself and achieve the impossible?

As for me, I am continuing on my open water swimming journey and I am currently training to complete a Robben Island double, that’s right, doing it twice!




Carol Hampshire

Carol Hampshire

I am Carol Hampshire, a brand designer + business strategy coach.
I get your brand attracting your ideal clients quickly through creating outstanding web designs, sales pages, logos and business coaching.
I am passionate about working with entrepreneurs who are coaches, creatives or wellness consultants and are ready to work smarter, grow quickly and play harder.
I’ve been running my own design business for 20 years and a coach for the last 10 years. I’m also a single mom to a teenager and engaged to be married.
I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, in Knysna, South Africa.


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