Kayaking Through Business Rough Waters

July 25, 2013

Martha Germann
Founder, Mindful Games Institute LLC

untitled-300x225As we move out of the cove of the marina and nearer to the body of the lake, the more experienced kayakers pick up speed.   I don’t want to be left behind, so remembering the tips my friend Sharmyn learned on her last trip, I was sure to not rely just on my arms – but use the core of my body.  If your arms are getting tired, you are doing it wrong.  I become focused on keeping my hands and arms relaxed and have my body do most of the work.  I begin to pick up speed.

“The waves on the lake today are pretty choppy.  You will get to have an experience that is similar to kayaking on the ocean,” states our guide Steve, as we come closer to the bigger part of Lake Texoma.  It is a beautiful, clear and windy day.  Being relatively new to kayaking, I am feeling a bit nervous.

As we head towards the rougher water of the lake, Steve advises us to row into the waves.  This way, you can ride over, instead of with, the swells and be in less danger of getting tipped over.   Riding on top of the waves and timing our strokes, will also utilize the wave’s power to move us forward.

We head into the choppy water.  As the waves get bigger and the ride feels bumpier, I hear Steve yell “Stay calm no matter how rough it gets and just keep rowing.  Don’t stop.”

Our guide points to the island across the lake, indicating our first destination, and we row in that direction.

As I get into a rhythm, the stroking of my paddles seems effortless.  I watch my paddles for a while to be sure they are actually going into the water.  The waves are getting rougher, but I do as Steve advised and keep moving, rowing perpendicular to the waves.  I focus on the whitecaps right in front of me and glance up only now and then to be sure I am still on course to the island and adjust as I need.

After a while, it feels like I am not making any progress, the waves coming at me look just like the waves that I just passed over.  I wonder if I am doing all this work just to stay in the same spot.  I look up and the island seems a little bigger, but I can’t be sure.  I chance a glance over my shoulder and am astonished by the distance we have made even against the wind.  I am already in the center of the lake.  I appreciate the ease at which we are moving in these rough waters.  Kayaking is a blast.

A couple of days after my kayaking event, I felt myself getting anxious about how slow things seemed to be moving in my business, and how I didn’t seem to be making progress.   I was in small business rough waters.   I thought back on the things that I learned from my experience on the lake, and saw that they applied to this situation too.

  • Relax
  • Stay calm the rougher it seems to be getting
  • Even small actions that feel effortless will keep up the momentum
  • Keep your focus on the target
  • Use obstacles to propel you forward

By doing these things I find that I have made more progress than I realize and I’m not worn out by the journey.

I hear the phone ring.  It’s a new client.