I’ve been wedged underneath rocks in the river, been trashed in the impact zone in the surf, and as a solopreneur, wondered how I was going to pay my bills.
You know, that feeling of being crushed by doubt, fear or things not working out the way you’d hoped?
Whitewater kayaking has been a phenomenal teacher for me in learning how to make big comebacks. How to not let one incident send me into a downward spiral. Like the one time I got stuck in a hydraulic, swam out of my kayak, bawled my eyes out, then got back in my boat and proceeded to win a race.
Or the time I took my first paddling instructor certification course as a Class IV paddler (I thought) and only got certified as a flatwater instructor. I chose to let that light a fire under me and I proceeded to practice and refine my skills so much that 3 years later I made the Canadian National Freestyle Team.
This summer I got to witness amazing comebacks from my whitewater students. One woman grazed her face on a rock halfway down the river, got scared and wasn’t sure how she could continue without being terrified. I then witnessed her paddle the rest of the river with ease, confidence and a smile!
Another woman flipped, missed her roll and swam out of her kayak twice early on. She then ran the hardest rapid on the river with ease and success, even flipping and rolling herself back up successfully.
So what’s the key to recovery and success when all seems lost? Here are 3 questions I ask myself to get back on track.
1. What Just Really Happened?
This question helps me discern between the story that I’m telling myself about what happened, and what actually just happened, or is happening.
If you want to create drama in your life and dive headfirst into a downward spiral of negativity and self-doubt, then keep buying into the story you’re telling yourself about the situation.
For example, if I swim out of my kayak, I could go down the path of telling myself that I suck as a kayaker and that everyone thinks I suck. Or maybe I blame the river or the conditions. That’s all story. What happened is that I swam out of my kayak. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. So… there’s nothing left to do then except get back in.
If I’m feeling pinched financially I could go into a story about not being a successful entrepreneur and tell myself I should stop trying and get a day job. Or, I could look at my numbers and accept that things are tight in that moment. That’s all, nothing more, nothing less. That frees me up to focus on what I can do to generate greater impact in the world and greater income.
When we see and accept what is in the moment then we empower ourselves to take action toward who we want to become (see below), instead of suffering in drama.
2. Who Do I Want to Become?
When something doesn’t work out the way you want it to, you have a choice. You can look at it as an opportunity, or as a ‘failure.’ What is more empowering? What will help you recover and get back on your path?
Always ask yourself: “Who do I want to become out of this?”
When I was competing on the World Cup circuit in Freestyle Kayaking there were several competitions where I placed low in the rankings. That didn’t stop me from keeping my eyes on a podium finish at the World Championships.
Had I allowed myself to stay in the story of how I sucked at kayaking because I didn’t finish in the top three at every competition, then I probably would never have reached the podium at the World Champs. And, in fact, when I did live in that story (because we all do at times), I always did poorly.
Remember that quote: “If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.”
3. Where Am I Looking?
Whether you have paddling or health and wellness goals, it’s important to keep your attention on your goals and not on the obstacles in your way.
This is a very important skill in river paddling. If you look at the big rock in the middle of the rapid then you’ll end up on that big rock! If you look at the water flowing around the rock then you’ll end up flowing around the rock too.
Where are you putting your attention right now? Are you focusing on what’s going wrong or are you focusing on what you can do right now to move toward your goals? The great thing is that you have a choice in the matter.
We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to what happens.
The women I witnessed turn their paddling day around in the face of substantial fear and self-doubt, all asked these questions.
The answers they gave and the actions that they took out of those answers allowed them to powerfully paddle on and have fun.
Whether you’re dealing with a health challenge, a money challenge, a paddling challenge or a mindset challenge, ask yourself these three questions. Once you do, you’ll be free to move closer to your goals.
AND… BTW… if you want to watch the video footage of the beatdown and swim from the featured photo, Click Here 🙂
Do you love kayaking and love the life lessons that kayaking helps to reveal? Want to master your mindset for optimal fun and confidence? My coaching programs offer equal focus on skills and mindset. Choose from a program focus on a month of coaching with 1 day of instruction or a 3 months of coaching with 3 days of instruction.
Prefer stand up paddleboarding? Check out my SUP camps for women in Barbados!