She looked like she had been churned and beaten by the clock as she apologized for running late, and then gave me the laundry list of what happened that delayed her ability to meet me at set time. “No worries.” I said… I felt bad her tardiness was causing her so much distress. “No.” She said, leaning in… and after a deep sigh she confessed “Priscilla, you don’t understand -I am late for everything – I just can’t seem to ever be on time.”
I could relate. Life has a way of sending us down the rapids, violently bashing us against unexpected obstacles, and spinning us into whirlpools, and making us get stuck in eddies. The more we fight it -the more weary we become.
Turn the boat, paddle forward.
If time is like a river, then feeling as though time is rushing away from you is like navigating white waters. The basic rule of thumb in getting through the rapids is “Turn the boat, paddle forward. Turn the boat, paddle forward. Turn the boat, paddle forward.” All whitewater enthusiasts know that breaching the boat can spell capsizing or disaster. When life is rushing – keep this in mind – turn the boat, paddle forward.
How do I turn the boat?
As my friend sat frazzled and ran through the day that ran over her – I stopped her for a moment and asked her if she ever spent time looking at her time. “Priscilla, I don’t even have time to brush my teeth most days.” … I understand her angst. Suggesting to someone who is already overwhelmed to stop and spend 10 to 15 minutes planning their day can be like asking a moose to dance ballet. But the way to slow down your day, is to look at it. When navigating a raging river, experienced Whitewater Guides study every inch of the river. They know what to expect ahead, they know where the obstacles are. They strategize what strokes will be most effective when facing fast currents, obstacles, eddies, whirlpools, rapids or reversals. When the water starts dragging their boat towards an obstacle – they are able to adjust their strokes to turn the boat -and paddle forward. While you might feel like you are going to drown, trust your guide, stop and listen, and plan your day. The only way to slow down time is to look at it.
I’m stuck on a rock – now what?
Even the most experienced Guides get stuck from time to time. What they do know is if they use the resources most readily available to them, they won’t be stuck for long. The first resource they have is their own wits. The first piece of advice any Guide will give you is when faced with a tight situation is to breathe, and not panic. The second resource you have is your own weight. If you can shift your weight away from the obstacle, and use the current, you can slide your vessel away from the rock, and flow downstream. Don’t fight the water – the water always wins. If that doesn’t work – throwing a rope to the nearest tree and getting assistance from bystanders on the edge might help. My friend was in desperate need of a rescue – and I was throwing her a life line. Be sure not to get so caught up in the overwhelm that you drown. Stop, look around you, and ask yourself “what resources do I have to make my life flow more smoothly?”
My challenge to you this week Trail Blazers – is to see how much you can slow down time by looking at it. Spend 10 to 15 minutes a day looking at your time. Create strategies to maneuver around obstacles. Take an inventory of your resources – and, if all else fails – grab a latte with a friend.
Flow on Trail Blazers.
Until then – hit the heights!
Priscilla Hansen Mahoney
The Natural Business Leadership Guide