When you started your business I bet one of your main reasons for doing so was the freedom to create your own schedule and work your own hours.
You wanted a piece of that wonderful entrepreneurial lifestyle of working from the beach, jetting off on an impromptu vacation on your yacht or dropping everything to head away to one of your holiday homes…..
You may not be quite at that stage yet, but are you actually taking advantage of the freedom you have and scheduling regular time out? Are you taking regular holidays or mini retreats or taking a whole day out during the week just because?
If you’re anything like me I’m pretty sure you’re working way more than you should, on weekends, late at night, basically all the time. I know we do this because we love what we do but it’s not healthy and it’s not sustainable and it’s certainly not we signed up for.
I’ve watched myself over the last few months become obsessed with the wrong things. Is checking my email one more time necessary? Does it really matter if I have more fans of my Facebook page than I did one day ago? Should I berate myself if I haven’t engaged across my Twitter accounts or responded instantly to a LinkedIn message? Must I schedule one more meeting with someone in my day?
No, as Seth Godin says, this is the resistance. All these things are stopping you from creating real art and working on purpose. So I decided to go into full battle against the resistance this weekend and drop everything to hit the great outdoors. That was my best decision ever.
Nine of us headed off early on Saturday morning kayak in the Indian Arm Provincial Park, an 18 kilometre fjord just 30 minutes away from Vancouver City. We set out paddling on the water to enjoy a spectacular landscape featuring rugged, forested mountains, large rock faces, small islands and a plethora of nature.
It takes mother nature to make you appreciate that this is what life is all about – nothing but you and nature. The calm serenity of paddling in sync, quietly gliding along the water and listening to the birds, seeing starfish sunbathing on the rocks and even having a deer chilling out right by your campsite, content to share your space.
No reception, no hot water, no facilities of any kind bar an outhouse, a creek and a fire to sit around to eat your dinner and drink wine. Perfect.
As always there’s a lesson you can learn that can translate back to your everyday business life. Here are my five:
# 1. Roll with the punches
After 4 hours of kayaking we reached our camping spot, set up tents, settled in and lazed on the grass dozing in the sun. We then decided we had to go and see the 50-metre high Granite Falls just 20 minutes away before we lost evening light. We all got back in our kayaks and I took the single one for a change.
Enroute two friends were trying to rescue an empty beer can floating by and doing their bit to keep this protected park clean. I went into to help out by using my paddle to push it towards them. I kept leaning out, stretching further until slowly, and gracefully my kayak simply rolled and I went into the cold water and slid out with crocs still on my feet and sunglasses on my head.
I was surprisingly calm and started laughing. The water was refreshing (I’d wanted to swim anyway) and the whole incident was highly amusing to my friends who’d watched it happen. I managed to turn my kayak upright and somehow get in after falling out again, pump out the water and carry on towards the waterfall.
Being totally wet now meant I got to fully enjoy the waterfall’s magnificence up close by bathing in it and exploring, plus for future reference I knew I could get in and out of my kayak with ease.
Roll with the punches you’re dealt and make the most of them as you never know what other benefit you may derive from doing so.
#2. Timing is everything
I’m sure you’ve had that experience of being in the perfect place at the perfect time, whether for an introduction to the right person or a business deal coming together just when you need it.
Well for us it was leaving the waterfall to get back to our campsite just before it went under water.
As we paddled closer we saw some of our gear floating in the water and the grass that we lay on earlier submersed in water thanks to the incoming tide. The water was 15 cm away from the first tent when we arrived. It was perfect timing to save our campsite set up.
Celebrate the moments when timing works to your advantage and be thankful for it.
#3. Change your mindset
Some weeks everything feels like an effort, you experience one issue after the other. This is precisely when you need to focus your mindset on what you want to have happen instead, how awesome your week will be and what amazing things will be achieved. Trust me it works in business and in life.
On day two I stepped up to take the individual kayak for the first half of the journey and had no idea that it would be so tough having kayaked for several hours the day before.
I was in pain. My muscles were complaining, the current was initially with us and now was turning, it was overcast and cooler and I found myself not fully enjoying the moment.
I thought back to the World Record breaking dragon boating crossing of the English Channel with the Sisterhood in 2007 which saw me paddling in a boat for 3 hours and 42 minutes solid. There was no room for whining then so why I was doing it now?
Helped entirely by the fact that I was donning my gear now for the first time since August 2008 I decided to suck it up! I focused on my paddling rhythm, I did a `Power of 10’ to increase my speed, propel myself along faster and catch up to my friends so I could chat with them and take my mind off the pain. It worked perfectly.
Create the right mindset and focus on the solution to your problem. The problem will address itself.
# 4. Take in the bigger picture
It’s become harder for me to step back from what I’m doing each day to focus on the business, rather than be caught up in it. The same applies to my fitness right now, training for World Clubs, which I leave to Prague for in 2 weeks today, can become all consuming. You get so tied up in training everyday that you forget what you’re actually working towards and why it’s all worth it.
Being out there on the water at times I would be looking straight ahead, at the front of my kayak, watching my stroke and the water glide by. At one point I realized a seal was staring directly at me and swimming towards me, then there were four of them just 10 metres from me. It was beautiful and I almost missed it as I was only focusing on what was immediately in front of me at the time.
Most of the weekend I’d luckily been taking in the whole picture which included the vast expanse of water before me, the proud mountains looming above, the puffy white clouds in the blue sky and the birds swooping overhead.
We spotted starfish drying on the rocks, herons chilling out, sulphur staining the rocks bright yellow, beautiful houses tucked away behind bushes and lupins up on the cliffs.
Make sure you’re not missing what’s right in front of you and be sure to readjust your focus to take in the bigger picture.
#5. Enjoy every moment
That might sound a little cliché and I know asking you to be happy every single moment is also not realistic but you have the power to make what you want of any moment just by changing your attitude, so try and do that more often.
When it rained in the morning and we were packing up our campsite several of us were happy to just be out in the great outdoors and not worried that we might end up a little wet, we were about to head out on the water anyway.
We stopped half way at a jetty and made our lunch. Suddenly the sun came out and warmed us up so we could enjoy our food, devour our chocolate and get a little drunk on wine.
We decided not to hurry back but instead soak up this moment and enjoy our time together.
Don’t be in such a rush. Enjoy those special moments because it’s about the journey and not the final destination.
PS Happy National Linchpin day – raise the flag!
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