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 the 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. With some coaching 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. After some coaching she proceeded to run the hardest rapid on the river with ease and success, even flipping and rolling herself back up successfully.
So how can you make a comeback when all seems lost? Here are 4 questions to ask yourself:
1. What are the facts?
This question helps me discern between the story that I’m telling myself about what happened, and what actually 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.
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 you 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 are you looking?
You have goals in all areas of your life – mind, body and paddling. These areas are connected, and 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? You have a choice in the matter.
4. What can you control?
You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to what happens.
Whatever challenge or disappointment you’re dealing with, remember that you have a choice in how you respond. To help you respond powerfully, look at the facts, decide who you want to be, and then look and take action in that direction.
It can be really hard to do this on your own because when you feel challenged you go into survival mode. That’s what humans do. Having someone in your corner that helps you stay present to these questions and your ability to respond can make the difference between comeback and letdown.
I love to help folks respond powerfully to setbacks and make comebacks. If you’re ready for someone to be in your corner helping you to make amazing comebacks, email me and ask me about my 3 month, 6 month, and 12 month one-on-one coaching programs.