One of my favorite hobbies is stand-up paddle boarding.
I love to be out on my board in open water, early in the morning when it is just the fishermen, my paddling friend and me. It is so peaceful, fun and something I feel really confident doing.
I decided this year that I was ready to upgrade my board to something that would be more of a physical challenge and go faster; I was feeling comfortable and wanted to up my game.
I bought a beautiful used racing board from a professional paddle board racer (yes, that’s a thing).
When the pro delivered the board he offered to spend some time with me on my technique. Always ready to be coached, I took him up on his offer.
As we started out, I was mindful of my position, aware that I had the scrutiny of someone whose job it was to give me feedback. (Hello, Coach!) With the elderly ladies in the cove watching me get a lesson, I was aware that there was an audience for my experience.
And I was in a bathing suit. So, yeah.
Years on my yoga mat has helped me be very comfortable and stable on a paddle board. But this day I learned that just standing on my board wasn’t enough anymore: I needed to engage more of myself (literally). I learned how to bring awareness to my core, and not rely solely on my legs to stay fixed.
The pro then asked why I always took two strokes on my right, then switched to two strokes on my left. I had to think about the answer because I had never considered doing it another way. Because I want to balance, I told him.
He challenged me to try something different.
First, I had to figure out which was my dominant side (my right) and to notice what was happening around me (strong current and light wind). He instructed me to keep paddling on the right until I noticed I was moving at a good pace, then pull two more times before switching sides (which turned out to be seven total). On this particular day, the current in the cove was strong so when I switched to the left side, it only took two efficient pulls to bring me back to center.
Seven pulls on one side and then two pulls on the other is not my idea of balance. But when I looked at how quickly I’d moved, mindful of my circumstances, it was exactly the right course of action.
I was going faster than I ever had, with a more efficient stroke, and I hadn’t veered off course.
I had been so committed to the idea of balance, and so ingrained in my habits, that I hadn’t considered another way might actually bring me more overall balance.
I let go of the elusive idea of balance — after all, I am standing on a board in the water — and I found momentum.
It is taking some getting used to, but my paddling has changed and now that I know how to be more aware of my body. I have a bigger goal to take longer trips on my board and maybe even participate in a paddling event in the future. Most of all, I won’t ever go back to my old way of paddling, before I was paying attention.
Of course, this lesson made me think of coaching.
My clients come to me as their coach:
- So they can begin to pay attention.
- So they can gain guidance on what is really going on.
- So they can consider another way of doing what they’ve always done.
- So they can more fully trust their own intuition.
- So they can get clear on what their goals and vision, and make sure they have the right resources.
- So they can find where they have the momentum to keep them on their right path.
Do you need some help recognizing where you have momentum, how to stay balanced and also go faster? It would be my honor to paddle alongside you.