How a kayaking clinic improved my business skills

Posted on June 23, 2011


kayaking helps business skills

You can probably tell from my blog posts that I love kayaking more than anything, even more than technology. When the opportunity to participate in a kayaking clinic came up, I jumped on it.

I was a little nervous since I only kayak with my husband and not in a group. The day was cloudy, with a chance of rain. I love kayaking, but not in the pouring rain.

The clinic started on land, where the instructor told us about the different parts of the paddle. I knew I was in trouble when he said, “when you hold the paddle, you can certainly feel the paddle is oval-shaped and not round.” I’m thinking, “Oh no, I feel a round shape.”

Next, we got into the kayaks from the dock. I’m used to having both feet firmly planted on the ground when getting into my kayak.  Doing it from one side is definitely not a pretty sight. Thank goodness the instructor held the boat steady for me. Otherwise, I would have landed face first in the Charles River – yuck.

At the end of the clinic I was exhausted, but elated since I learned lots of new things about kayaking and about myself. As I was thinking about the afternoon on the ride home, I realized that not only did I learn a lot about kayaking, but the lessons I learned can be applied to my business skills.

Here’s how the kayaking clinic has helped my business skills:

1. Admit your mistakes and work on correcting them.

For the past 6 years, I have been paddling wrong. Sure, my technique got me to where I needed to be, but it wasn’t very efficient.

The teacher was very patient in explaining how to paddle. It was very hard for me to follow his instructions. I did tell him that I was having to undo 6 years of bad habits. He understood.

My business skill application: I have been focusing on the wrong things in my job search. Instead of trying to myself into a job slot, I need to create my own opportunities.

2. Keep practicing.

Now, when I go out kayaking, I make a point to do the paddlig exercises. They are hard and they tire me out, but they really help me work on my form.

My business skill application: I keep practicing and refining my marketing pitch.

3. Be fearless!

The river was rough, I was feeling a bit nauseous (first time I’ve ever been sea sick – what was up with that) and I was nervous because I wasn’t understanding what the teacher was trying to tell us. But, I kept trying the new way to paddle and just focused on that.

My business skill application: I think of my favorite Nike motto, “Just do it.” I’m reinventing myself as I learn new skills and I’m loving it!

4.  Learn from others.

This one sounds obvious, but it didn’t resonate with me until after the class was over.  By watching the other class participants and hearing their questions, I saw that they were struggling with the same things as I was.

My business lesson learned:  Ask a lot of questions and don’t be afraid of sounding stupid.

What experiences have unexpectedly helped you in business?

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Posted in: business, marketing