Watch The Water, Not The Rocks

On a recent “old guys reunion” boating trip, I was reminded of a lesson I learned years ago. As a novice kayaker facing a new set of rapids, I would focus on all the obstacles in the path: the big rocks, the “keeper” rapids, the tree branch lodged in the middle of the river. As I started into the flow, I would keep all these dangers in sight, so I could be sure to avoid them. Invariably, I’d wind up on, in, or under the very things I was trying to avoid.

One day, as I desperately tried to keep from bouncing off rocks and getting sucked under water, I saw a veteran kayaking friend easily surfing every wave, and even hamming it up to the crowd lined up along the banks of the river. When we met up at the bottom of the run, I asked with humility, “how in the world can you do that?”

His answer: “Once you know where the dangers are, watch the water, not the rocks”.

This concept was and is profound, and one I continue to use often in business:

– You move toward what you see and what you see is a function of what you choose to look at. 
– If you focus on the obstacles in your way, you will go toward them. 
– If you focus instead on the water flowing between the rocks, you hold your line and not only survive, but even enjoy the run.

Make no mistake. Then as now, the dangers ahead are very real; the obstacles in front of us are enormous; the margins for error are small. If you find yourself facing a set of business rapids you’ve never run (and who among us has ever run THIS river before?) consider his advice.

Now more than ever, it’s time to focus on the water, not the rocks.

If you know others for whom this might resonate, feel free to pass it along. If you’d like to chat about how to successfully navigate your course, we would love to help. Contact us today >> 

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