Are You in Deep Water? Business Lessons Learned From Kayaking

July 3, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

I’m not exactly what you would call an expert kayaker. But when my friends invited me to go kayaking with them I thought it would be fun to spend the day paddling through the water. About 10 minute into the trip I learned that kayaking is not as easy as it looks.

But conquering the wind and the waves was more than just fun it was rewarding. It got me thinking about my business. Why did we take on the challenge of business? For the freedom? For the money? For the reward of being successful? For me it’s all these things.

Who knew a piece of plastic and a paddle could be so inspiring!?

Here are 4 business lessons I learned from Kayaking.

Don’t wait until everything is perfect
Right off the bat I made a rookie mistake. Since we weren’t going swimming, I flashed back to the only other time that I’d kayaked without swimming. It was on a lake and I wore shorts and tennis shoes. So that’s what I wore. Well let’s just say my friend took one look at me and started laughing. “Why aren’t you wearing a bathing suit?” she asked.

She was right. My shorts and tennis shoes were soaked about 4 seconds after I got in. And I didn’t even have a towel! When I realized I had the wrong clothes, wrong shoes and no towel I had a choice to make. I could change my mind, go home and miss the trip or just go anyway and make the best of it. I chose to go anyway and in the long run I had a great time. Now think about your business. How often have you held back or not done something because it wasn’t perfect or you didn’t have the exact perfect equipment? How many clients, how much money and how many fun times have you missed because you didn’t just go for it? Remember, there is no such thing as perfect.

Don’t paddle so hard
While still in the harbor, we spotted a little man-made island that was covered in seals. As a huge animal lover, that was really exciting for me. I had a goal and I was determined to get to those seals there in a hurry. I started paddling really fast. I plunged the paddle deep in water and pulled with all my might and very quickly I was tired. My friend in the back said, “don’t work so hard, skim the surface of the water and that will actually work better and is a lot less work.”

I started using the proper technique and you know what – it worked. My arms didn’t hurt and we got to those seals faster than when I was working so hard. It’s the same thing with your business. Getting your business’s operations (aka your systems) in place will give you the technique you need to work less and reach your goals faster.

Track Your Progress
It was easy paddling out over the waves when we were going with the current. However, when we had to paddle against the current, the road got a whole lot harder. After several minutes my friend, Alisha says to me, we keep paddling, but I don’t think we’re moving.

I couldn’t tell if we were moving or not so I picked a landmark and could then tell when we were and weren’t making progress. If we weren’t moving then I’d tell her and we’d alter what we were doing. When we were moving forward we’d do more of what worked. Are you watching your business progress? Do you know how many subscribers you have? How many sales calls convert? How much money you’ve made this year compared to prior years? When I began tracking our progress in the kayak I could tell when we were moving forward and I could tell what worked. It’s the same with your business. Track your progress so you can make strategic decisions and alter your course when need be.

Don’t Give Up
Even with the right technique it was still a lot of hard work to paddle through the strong current. My arms started to ache and burn and I just had to stop and rest. When I stopped the current pushed us back. Then we had to work hard, just to get back to where we were. Finally, we were making progress again and my arms wanted, no begged me to stop for a rest. But instead of giving in, I pushed harder and we made it to our next target. I didn’t give up which pushed us forward.

What we all need to remember is that business is not perfect. There will be mistakes. There will be failures. There will be set backs. These are the crucial times when you have to push harder to get to the next target.

Ok, who’s ready to be my kayak buddy?

2012 Beth Schneider, Process Prodigy, Inc.

Beth Schneider, Chief Infopreneur, uses her natural ability to create systems and motivate people, providing streamlined, effective and consistent processes and procedures.

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