David Mesnard turned his back on military service in France at the age of 19, and he never went back. His head told him to go far away and his heart yearned for freedom. The Maldives was the perfect destination. Way before any tourist industry was established, David arrived in this paradise archipelago and began what has been a 26 year odyssey of grit, perseverance and self-discovery.
The path has been paved with set-backs and huge challenges, but today, David, his wife Gaelle and 5 year old daughter Dune, are living the dream, spending their lives aboard the 30 meter luxury vessel Ocean Divine, a boat built through sweat, tears and a whole lot of love.
Having just returned from a week long Flowstate Adventure aboard the Ocean Divine, hosted by David and his family, I wanted to write about the qualities I noticed in this man that enabled him to overcome such huge challenges, remain focused on his goals and achieve his dreams. Thinking big, Mastering the Art of learning and Going All in, are the 3 attributes I took away from David’s story.
David spent the first 13 years of his life in the Maldives as any young adventurer would, sniffing around for opportunity, living the life of a modern day Robinson Crusoe. Now regarded as arguably the best dive destination in the world, back then no one knew about the Maldives. So David rented a small boat and began luring European divers out check it out. He knew that he was in a special place, a beautiful island, ocean paradise where nature was untouched and divers could swim with huge eagle rays and whale sharks.
Over time, his dream took shape: he decided he wanted to build and live on the largest, most luxury vessel in the Maldives, so he could share this paradise with others.
The only problem was he had no money and a bank loan was out the question.
But that did not stop him. He set about finding the people who would financially back him. He became crystal clear on his goals and dream, and systematically began the process of taking each step at a time that would get him closer to living his dream.
You Can learn anything.
Have you ever built a 30 meter, 3 decker boat, that sleeps 26 people, is as luxurious as a 5 star hotel and will be your home for the rest of your life?
Neither have I. Neither had David. He had never built a small boat, let alone a massive one. He had never built a house, or an ikea book shelf.
David was a total rookie.
This did not stop him. As his dream solidified in his mind, David flew around the world to spend time in shipyards, and with ship builders. He put himself on a self-imposed apprenticeship.
With a heart fuelled by purpose and a head like a sponge for information, David learned enough to begin his mission. With 6 investors backing him, who he described as “more crazy than me”, David moved to a tiny island in the Maldives, and ordered tons of timber to be delivered.
The 2 local carpenters David hired had never built a boat so large and the biggest tool they had was a chainsaw.
Try to imagine the feelings of self-doubt and fear you might feel when you see 30 tons of timber arriving on your tiny island, and the carpenters you have hired have no idea how to tackle the project. They also have no belief in your ability to tackle it!
It takes a powerful character to deal with such internal doubts, let alone create the air of confidence and bravado that would inspire others to follow.
David felt the fears and over the 6 year period of building the boat he had many long periods of feeling afraid and full of doubt. But there is something in this man that is as hard as iron: self-belief. Belief in his ability to learn.
David oozes the quality that I have noticed in the most successful people on earth: Mastery of Learning. When all around him were doubting, when nature delivered a tsunami to halt progress, when he could not figure out how to get he completed boat off the island and into the ocean, David drew on his faith in his own ability to problem solve and learn.
This mastery of learning can be seen in other areas of his life. David was an self-taught free-diver. After experiencing a shallow water blackout, a dangerous incident, he sought training from the words best, and soon became a world class free-diver. Later in life he decided he wanted to learn to fly, so he did. (He fired his micro-lite flight instructor and taught himself in the end).
On the last day, I saw him take one of our crew, James Schramko, aside for a private chat. I knew what was going on. James is a very successful and renowned marketer, business coach and entrepreneur. David, ever the opportunist was seizing the opportunity to learn something new.
Go All In.
When you sit down with David at lunch, or out in the ocean, you feel the force of personality that emanates from him. It is a tangible energy of leadership and I know that in a crisis situation I would move mountains to be by his side.
David’s determination and tenacity is a force of nature and is reflected in his “all in” attitude. Once he committed to building that boat, nothing was going to stop him. This unwavering commitment would have been a vital part of quelling doubts and shifting the mind-sets of those around him.
David says of his challenges: “I built the boat, but in a way the boat built me.”
Please watch this video below, if you are facing huge challenges, and you struggle to see a way though them, and you would appreciate a boost of inspiration.
My Biggest Takeaway from the Maldives Flowstate Adventure
The most amazing thing about this trip, more striking than the boat or the waves, was the people it attracted. Like moths to a flame, those with an adventurous spirit and a willingness to learn signed up.
We all had our fears. We all had limitations and we all had different areas of life in which we excelled. On board were up and coming entrepreneurs, highly successful entrepreneurs, former pro athletes, and others who in their own way, whether in the waves or in life, battled through fears, challenges and doubts to achieve goals.
The qualities that stood out most were open-mindedness, curiosity and support.
Every day, we learned from each other. A constant stream of conversations was the soundtrack of the trip. On board the boat and waiting for waves out in the ocean there were a thousand connections, stories told, lessons passed on, wisdom shared.
This, more than the surf, more than anything, made me smile. This is how I measure the success of this adventure because this is what community is all about.
Our next surf adventure will be in 2016, and top of the list at the moment is Peru (long left hand point breaks and a fascinating culture to explore). Click Here to register your interest in a Peru Adventure
We are also thinking about a summertime mountain adventure to Queenstown: rafting, bungy jumping, mountain biking: Fear and Flow. Click Here to register interest in a Mountain Adventure We are really keen to get YOUR ideas for new adventures we plan. So let us know what is on your bucket list?