The Lady in the Boat

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My partner and I recently spent two amazing weeks on holiday in North Germany and Denmark, where we got married. During our trip we met so many wonderful people, but one in particular had a lasting impact.

We’d started our holiday with a short cruise to Hamburg from Southampton. We were lucky enough to be seated at dinner with two German ladies and a Swiss couple, who were all coming to the end of their world cruise. 

One of the four was a 92-year-old lady, who was born in Hamburg in 1927. She was therefore alive during the great depression and witnessed the rise of Hitler that followed. World War II broke out when she was just 12 and when she was 16, her family lost everything. (She blamed the Nazis exclusively, but I suspect the 9,000 tons of bombs the allies dropped on Hamburg during Operation Gomorrah in 1943, killing over 42,000 civilians, wounding another 37,000 and destroying 250,000 homes also played a part.) Displaced, she ended up living in Munich, where she would meet her husband and remain.

What was truly extraordinary was what this inspirational lady had achieved despite a difficult start in life. After the war, she’d studied medicine, both Psychiatry and Anatomy, at a time when it was almost unheard of for women in Germany to do so. And she’d gone on to enjoy a successful, high profile career. Now, aged 92, and widowed, she’d embarked alone on what she called her last great soiree – a world cruise. It was clear that she’d embraced the whole experience, indeed life in its entirety, and that her table companions and the crew clearly adored her.

The experience of having the great fortune of being sat next to this particular 92-year old and chatting with her for two nights (she spoke excellent English) reminded me that tolerance, inquisitiveness, bravery and energy are not the exclusive domain of the young. 

And it reminded me that success is more than knowledge; more than qualifications; more than physical strength. Success is the result of mental strength. It’s about resilience, determination, self-belief and the ability to overcome and learn from challenges.  

When we launched Glasstap, and subsequently Trainers’ Library, our mission was determinedly not to ‘teach people’, but rather to ‘enable people’. Enabling people for us means:

  • Helping them recognise and develop their own strengths.
  • Helping them acquire the skills they need to achieve their goals. 
  • Giving them the opportunity learn from experiences.
  • Helping people develop the confidence and belief that will allow them to achieve their potential. 

Our belief is that we can’t ‘give’ people strengths, but we can create the opportunities and the support framework that will help them find and develop their own strengths. That’s fundamental to our approach when developing experiential training materials.

And we’ve a library of materials to help people understand and develop their resilience and positive mindset, many of which Frances referenced in her inspiring blog last week.

Thanks for reading. As always, all comments and feedback are welcome. 

About Rod Webb

Rod Webb

Rod is co-founder and Commercial Director at Glasstap® (www.glasstap.com), the company behind  Trainers' Library® (www.trainerslibrary.com) and Managers' Library (www.managerslibrary.com).

Rod has overall responsibility for the Glasstap brand and the day to day operations of the business.

Through its innovative Trainers' Library® service, Glasstap® provides trainers with easy access to its unique range of innovative, experiential learning materials, including detailed trainer's notes, handouts, participant briefs etc. The service is used by professional trainers in over 50 countries.

The recently launched Managers' LIbrary aims to help line managers become better at fulfilling their part in the leraning and development cycle providing loads of short training activities that can be used in team meetings and lots of self-development tools for the managers themselves.

Rod is the author of an extensive catalogue of experiental training materials, available through Trainers' Library®, which includes teambuilding games like Murder at Glasstap Grange and Jack Fruggle's Treasure. He now works with a team of authors who continue to develop new material for Trainers' Library and Managers' Library.

In his spare time, Rod enjoys creative writing, reading, walking, cycling and spending time with his horses and dogs. He's currently creating a new board game.

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