Back in the days when I enjoyed canoeing, I’d attend the annual River Rat Race on Miller’s River, from Athol, Massachusetts to the neighboring town of Orange. The race took place at the end of the winter season, which meant there were chunks of ice to deal with and a strong current due to the thawing.
It wasn’t unusual for several of the canoe race contestants to end up in the drink. And it wasn’t unusual for me to be one of those people swimming frantically for the shore. The water was cold and no one had any mercy for you when you tipped over.
After two consecutive years of falling into the river, I decided to ask a pro about the secret of staying afloat. Kevin, a local who had won several River Rat races, always went to Mike’s Place for a celebration beer after the event. So after one race I went to Mike’s to find Kevin and buy him a beer in exchange for a little advice. My timing was perfect. He was there, ready for his second beer, and I was right there handing it to him.
“You’ve got to slow down to speed up,” Kevin advised me. “You don’t understand the river and the conditions of the water, so you just paddle like hell and think that’s going to put you out front.” I nodded my head as he spoke. “Don’t fight the river,” Kevin went on to say. “Get inside of how nature works.” Kevin then explained when to go shallow to avoid the current and chunks of ice and when to paddle with everything I had, right into the middle of the river. “That’s when you allow the current to do the work for you,” he said.
This ordinary, unassuming guru had no idea how valuable his canoe tips were to me. Forget canoeing, I saw that his advice could help me win at the game of life. Sometimes when I start a new business project I get anxious and have to remind myself, “Slow down to speed up, Rob! Don’t fight life; get inside of how life works in this particular situation and flow with it.” This in turn reminds me that it’s wise to look at the larger scheme of things. Relax and seek to understand any obstacles that I’ll need to deal with, so I can put together an effective plan ahead of time.
And after taking the time to put together an effective game-plan, I then remind myself, “That’s when it’s the right time to allow the current to do some of the heavy lifting for me.” Kevin unassumingly taught me that life is always ready to support me, just as the river is willing to support the intelligent-thinking canoeist. And it’s only with the right attitude and proper planning that I’m able to get into the flow of life, where right things begin happening with ease.
Thanks, Kevin. You’ve helped me win a lot of races!
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