As I was nervously sitting in a sea kayak on the Pacific Ocean eyeing up a sea cave that I would soon to be paddling into, all I could see were the rocks. The big rock walls, the many rocks in the middle of the path between here and there, and images in my mind’s eye flashing before me saying, “stay away from the rocks!”
After all, in my many years of traveling and being drawn to coastlines, I’ve seen my fair share of safety related signs that say things like:
- “Stay back! The ocean is unpredictable.”
- “Beware of rogue waves”
- “Keep off the rocks”
So I was perplexed about the wisdom of my desire to paddle directly into confined spaces within large rocks as the waves sloshed and crashed around me.
Even though I am an avid kayaker, this was a first for me – ocean kayaking that involved paddling through breaking waves and into sea caves. I trusted my fine guide (folks at Central Coast Kayak were really great) and I yearn for adventure (at least when I’m sitting at home!) so what was the problem?
After a few nerve wracking trips in and out of some caves I found I wasn’t really loosening up a great deal. I was still hyper focused on trying to make my lines so I could enter and exit the cave unscathed. Until something my guide said allowed my stress and anxiety to melt away. He said, “Don’t be afraid to hit the rocks!”
I thought to myself … “Oh, it’s ok to hit the rocks? Who knew?”
Obviously we’re not talking about paddling headstrong straight into the rocks, but rather if you bump them along the way it is totally ok. More than likely you’ll simply be helped along your way and your course will be swiftly righted.
I can’t tell you how freeing that was! It didn’t change my desire to hit my lines or make clean turns. What it did do was free me up from the overly tense and high pressure state I had my mind and body in that was stressing me out and making each skill test take my breath away (and not in the good way!).
The amplified sounds of crashing waves were intimidating enough inside the caves (serious acoustics in there). At least I no longer needed to panic about hitting the rocks. This little bit of permission I was given made a world of difference in how I felt and ultimately in my ability to enjoy the journey and do it safely.
It reminded me of all the different ways within our own businesses that we get all strung out over something when we could just give ourselves permission to ease up a bit. Permission to be ok with hitting the rocks once in a while and knowing that the boat will right itself if need be. It will all be ok.
So I ask you to take a set in your own virtual kayak beside me and ask yourself in what ways are you:
- Pushing too hard and you need to ease up?
- Being too unstructured and could stand to firm things up or accelerate them a bit?
- Creating a lot of stress and mental anguish that need not be there (suffering is not a prerequisite for success)?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below…
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