2 birthdays ago my husband gave me a stand-up paddleboard and it’s one of my favorite things to do at the lake. Visiting friends enjoy the challenge of learning the sport
and we’ve had lots of laughs watching each other. We incorporated the SUP into the FK survivor challenge on Labor Day at the Lake with great success and humor.
When I’m out on the water concentrating on staying upright, I’ve thought of the similarities between running a business and mastering a stand-up paddleboard.
1. The bigger the board, the easier it is to not fall. The board serves at the foundation and if that’s well defined and sturdy, staying upright is easier. Strong leadership, a clearly defined mission and vision, solid core values and a committed hard-working team keep Finders Keepers afloat and moving forward.
2. When the waves come, and they will, steering into them is the best way to not fall. When problems or issues arise, and like the waves they will, it’s always best to acknowledge them and look for ways to solve them or address them immediately. Leaders steer into the problems quickly and own them. Others get side-swiped and fall because they aren’t willing to own the problems but instead try to ignore them. Turning into the waves is always your best option. Wobbling sideways usually results in a fall.
3. Paddling in the calm water is always easier but a master can paddle in rocky water and becomes stronger as a result. You have to lead even when it’s hard out there. Learning to adjust to stay upright builds skills and competencies needed for future sets of waves that will come. We learn more in hard times than in easy times, pushing ourselves to stay upright and move forward.
4. When the current is strong, paddling upstream is really hard. Can you go against the current when it’s necessary? Can you push yourself when the current is not the way you want to go or do you just go with the flow because it’s easier? How do you decide when it’s best to go with the strong current or turn around and go against it? Which market trends are worth following and which ones are not right for your business?
5. Part of fun of paddle boarding is falling and watching people fall. The goal of course is to not fall but if you are really learning the sport and pushing yourself, you will fall. If you don’t, you are being too cautious. In business, you will fall. Sales may fall, employees will let you down, markets will shift, unforeseen things will happen. These represent the waves that will come. The trick is learning how to get back on the board quickly and keep moving forward, and to access what happened and make necessary adjustments and learn from the fall. It’s just necessary experience so you’ll be ready the next time. And it’s always best to keep a sense of humor, no matter what is happening.
6. During wavy times, stay focused. If you let your mind wander and don’t pay attention to what’s happening around you, you will fall. Stay on top of business trends and pay attention to everything in your business and your industry. If you don’t, you’ll miss something and either get left behind or fall. Focus is key in paddle boarding and in business. Keep focus on the mission, the vision and the core values and this clarity will guide your decisions to the correct path.