Martha Lane Fox on near death, denial and disco
June 12, 2020. Series 1. Episode 2
Baroness Martha Lane Fox is a force of nature – entrepreneur, philanthropist, cross bench peer and one of the most influential people in digital for the last 25 years. The co-founder of Lastminute.com, she also now sits on the board of Twitter, the Donmar Warehouse and Chanel. But Martha is also someone who can talk with power and authority on the subject of crisis. In 2004 she was left fighting for her life after a car accident in Morocco that broke 28 of her bones, including a shattered pelvis. In this episode Martha talks powerfully about the practical techniques – both mental and physical – she has developed to cope with a crisis she must confront every day of her life. Martha is, I think, an inspiration to anyone dealing with their own trauma.
Martha’s Crisis Cures:
1. Boxing: ‘It’s so fundamental to my mental and physical wellbeing…even just imagining doing exercise can build the muscle mass. It’s quite extraordinary the relationship between our brains and our muscles.’
2. Books & Poems: ‘The poem Don’t Hesitate by Mary Oliver, it’s about joy…even when the world is bleak and there’s always something awful happening it doesn’t mean you should begrudge yourself joy.’
3. Pant Discos: ‘Putting some music on, blaring out way too loud (sorry neighbours) and having a couple of minutes moving about. Nothing beats it.’
Peers for the Planet: https://www.peersfortheplanet.org
The Open University: http://www.open.ac.uk
Queens Commonwealth Trust: https://www.queenscommonwealthtrust.org
Just For Kids Law: https://justforkidslaw.org
Lucky Voice: https://www.luckyvoice.com
Two things strike you immediately about Baroness Martha Lane Fox. A total and utter absence of self-pity is first. But an authentic, compelling honesty about her crisis and its impact is second.
Honest that nothing good came from her accident. Honest that, for her, denial has been an invaluable weapon in the years since.
As she says: “Denial is a very, very important part of how I function. I’m sure there are lots of people who would say there is lots about that that’s not healthy. The way I don’t get scared or feel as though I am a fraction of what I was, is by denying that I might fall over, that I have massive physical challenges. Some things you have to park.”
The power of denial is not a strategy for crisis that you’ll find in any self-help book but I thought it was incredibly valuable because, as Martha herself says, “Crisis is not a competition.” There is no authoritative manual for crisis because every crisis is different. The key is in taking the time to work out what is best for you.
And for Martha, one of the most positive people I’ve had the good fortune to talk to, denial has – when she feels she needs it – absolutely worked.
Music: Allies by Some Velvet Morning