I have to admit that I was a little reluctant to see the new film “The Mercy” despite having three great leading actors Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz and David Thewlis). I was concerned that it was going to be the same film as the Robert Redford movie “All Is Lost” which was essentially a story of one man’s conversation with himself. Thankfully it isn’t.
The Mercy is based on a true story – set in 1968/69. It is the tale of Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth), a business owner and amateur sailor. He is tempted to compete in The Times Round the World Yacht Race, hoping to become the first man or fastest man to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe. He designed his own boat the Teignmouth Electron, a trimaran.
Beware of Confidence
Thankfully we do not witness hours of footage of sailing single-handedly, but get the opportunity to explore some of the characters and their relationships. Crowhurst suffers from over-confidence, masking a deep sense of a lack of confidence. His boat is too costly for him, so he secures funding through sponsorship. However, it is clear that Crowhurst is not a good businessman, rarely able to come close to initial estimates and ends up signing over the deeds to his home and business should his venture fail. You can smell the inevitability of it can’t you.
His delayed start to the race, quickly produces Crowhurst with a dilemma – to give up, return home but lose his house and business or to carry on, with little chance of success and at best a 50/50 chance of survival. This is the moment that is so often cited in books and films, where adversity births success. We continue to sail with Crowhurst as other competitors drop out, but soon realise that he is not up to the challenge with so little experience, something that many suspected all along.
Crowhurst sees no alternative but to concoct an alternative reality, 50 years ago this was considerably easier to do than it would be now. His ability to plot a false course and report false progress was arguably harder than an accurate one. Back on dry land an enthusiastic public wanting yet another British hero are fed fabrications about his record progress (again). He continues to make choices under immense pressure, failing to reflect on his purpose or at the very least his motivation, but then the image of anyone sailing single-handedly for months on end, might raise questions about motive. I won’t spoil the story for you.
Life Must Be Lived, What Gives it Meaning – Why?
I often use the analogy of a financial planning as a journey, one where we are clear about the destination, but needing to regularly adjust to get back on course and check progress. This is based on your purpose, your values, your “why?” without that, chances of success are very slight and rarely is it possible to emerge from financial storms without the necessary experience. My suggestion is that lessons can be learned from this.
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