Lessons from paddle boarding.
Posted on May 21, 2015
I wanted to share a few things I have learned about leadership from one of my hobbies. I really enjoy water, anything type of activity that takes place on or around water as a mater of fact. One of those hobbies includes something that I took up last year. Stand Up Paddleboarding.
From what I can see when I am out on the water, it looks like the sport is gaining popularity because I see more and more people out on the water.
I was out in one of my favorite spots just yesterday (the other day for you) when I began thinking about leadership and Stand Up Paddleboarding has a lot in common.
One of the first things you learn when you start any type paddling is that you start off going into the wind. The easy thing to do is to start paddling with the wind at your back. You will be able to go further faster but in the end, you’ve gone too far, and in some cases the journey back can cost you your life. When it comes to leadership, taking the easy path can come back to hurt you later.
One of the things that you have to do when you are paddling is to focus on where you are going. If you spend your time focusing on the water passing by the board, you will end up off course and nowhere near where you had planned on going. Keeping an eye on the goal and also watching the scenery is all part of the sport. But focusing on one more than the others can ruin your day paddling. There will be times when you, as a leader, will be tempted to take your eyes off of the course and focus on the trivial matters. Remember to keep your eyes on the vision.
Another strange thing about paddling is that you have to spend time paddling on both sides of the board. If you just paddle on one side, well you go in circles. It is impossible to stay on the course unless you put energy equally on both sides. Sometimes there will be wind or current that effects your direction, this will cause you to adjust your energy and effort to remain on course. Once and a while a leader will have to spend time resolving team issues or adjusting course. These are necessary steps to maintaining the course of the team.
One last thing that I noticed the other day while I was out. Resistance does not determine if you are on the right course. You can have the wind at your back and be moving quickly with little effort. All the while you are heading off course down a path that takes you where you do not want to go. The opposite is also true. I was out for an hour or so the other day when I decided to head back to my starting point. That is when the wind picked up and was blowing directly into my face. I knew where I needed to go, but the resistance was tough. I realized that no matter how hard the wind blew I knew that the direction that I needed to go was into the resistance. Sometimes leaders assume that resistance is the sign of moving in the wrong direction. This is not always the true; sometimes resistance is just natural for the course.
This week’s experiment; Are you taking the necessary steps to remain on course? Is there resistance facing you? Or, are you going smoothly down the wrong path?