I recently spent a week on a 67ft boat with our friends the Delf’s and my family at Desolation Sound.
This magnificent marine park has a magical almost mystical magnetism that draws boaters from around the world and because the water is warmer it’s awesome for swimming, waterskiing and snorkeling. It is situated at the top of the Sunshine Coast and the pristine waters of are surrounded by steep snowcapped mountains. Many regard the Desolation Sound area as one of the most beautiful areas in the world and after spending a week there I would have to agree.
I thought I would share a life lesson I learned while on my summer vacation.
I want to share a story with you that can act as a metaphor for anyone who has set a goal but may still be struggling to achieve it.
I lowered myself into the kayak and felt the sudden coolness of water seep into the bottom of my shorts. Not a lot, but just enough to make me realize that I was out of my comfort zone and at the mercy of nature. The sun was reflecting off the emerald water so I pulled my sunglasses off my head and waited for my eyes to adjust. Snow capped mountains rose majestically out of the sea and as I began to glide through one of British Columbia’s most beautiful marine parks, I developed a peaceful rhythm that connected my mind and body. I paddled by the anchored yachts of Prideau Haven’s elite aqua neighborhood and waved to the sunbather’s, the folk’s having coffee on their bows, the couple’s taking their dogs for a dingy ride to find dry land and the pasty white, weekend boaters on their cellphones. The sun was hot and I began to soak in the beauty of my surroundings.
I spontaniously created a goal for myself. I remember on our boat ride back from Refuge Cove Marina passing a treeless island where hundreds of Seals congregated. The locals referred to it as “seal rock”. I had all day and I pointed my Kayak for Seal Rock.
I stroked past the gateway to Desolation Sound and the sea instantly became choppy. I knew I would have to cross a channel which was a major throughfare for boats so I would be exposed to bigger waves and run the risk of taking on water. I had all day and the sun was hot so I took on the challenge and headed out into open water. I managed to cross the channel and the sweat poured from my brow. I stopped to splash cold. salt water on my face and floated between two small islands. I could see the orange starfish below the surface and I could hear the whitecaps slapping the mussel and oyster covered rocks. I rounded the corner of the island and my heart sunk. Seal Rock was a lot further out than I had remembered. I was determined to attain my goal. I sucked it up and started to paddle. There was more open sea past the island and the wind had started to pick up. Like pulling the blinds on a hotel window, the sun went dark when the clouds move overhead. The sea became dark and the waves became swells. A fishing troller passed my starboard side and I braced myself for it’s wake. The wind was blowing against me and I was not making very good progress. I entered a riptide and suddenly for the first time fear crept into my thinking. I was struggling to keep the kayak balanced. I had already paddled a great distance and yet my goal was a long way off. I started to think rationally. I had told no one where I was going, as far as anyone knew I was simply gone for a short kayak in the shelter of Laura cove. I had no life jacket on board, no water, no snacks and no means of communication. I was now exposed in open water with waves breaking around me, the wind was increasing and my goal of reaching Seal Rock was still far off. I’m not a quitter I told myself, I can make it, I just have to work harder. I also asked myself, was that working smarter? No, this was foolish, I was already low on energy and if I was swamped by a wave and flipped it would every ounce of me to right the kayak and get back in, that is if I could hang on to it. My goal was in view and I thought about my book and my own words about perserverance through rough times and in this case rough waters.
The riptide was swirling and swelling around me so with a burst of tenacity I thrust the oars deeper into the rolling, foamy waters and broke out of it’s vortex of currents. I saw Seal Rock far off in the distance and pushed on through the mist. Suddenly a voice inside said “Stop”. I took a deep breath and relaxed. i remembered a quote from Richard Branson’s book “Screw it just Do it”. The quote I recalled said, “there is nothing wrong with taking a risk as long as it’s a calculated risk.” This was coming from a man who tried to hot air balloon his way around the world. Was my risk calculated? What did I have to gain by reaching Seal Rock today. Why today and not tomorrow? It dawned on me that I had to calculate my risks. I was heading into the wind, late in the day, the sea was churning and I was not making very good progress. . . I turned around and headed back for Desolation Sound.
When I returned to the yacht, I found my daughter was very worried about me. My daughter’s were actually preparing to send out a search party. I explained what I had set out to accomplish and I had made the proper decision to turn back, and forsake my goal. Did I forsake my goal altogether? No, I merely postponed my goal.
The next morning I began my preparations. I reviewed the charts, I packed water and energy bars. I put on appropriate clothing and stowed a life jacket. I basically filed a “float plan” and as I was stepping into the kayak, I was handed a 2-way radio. My family knew my goal, they encouraged me and I appreciated their support.
The trip was much easier the second time. I had left earlier in the day when the tide was higher, the water was as smooth as glass, even in the open channel the sea was much calmer and because I was rowing with the tide I made amazing time. Before I knew it, I was touching Seal Rock with the edge of my paddle. Goal accomplished.
What began as a physical challenge, q whim, a sudden inspired desire to reach a goal, became my metaphor for risk management. Like a blueprint for calculating risk, the components were simple:
1 - Look around your own circle of influence for opportunity. (seeing Seal Rock as a destination point while paddling the kayak)
2 - Taking action and moving swiftly through obstacles toward your goal (rowing through open water and heavy seas with the island in view)
3 - Analyze your strengths and weakness (realizing you could make it, but you have no life jacket)
4 - Calculate the distance and the obstacles remaining (seeing the island was further away and the wind was increasing)
5 - Make a decision to re-evaluate and create a new plan (weigh the circumstances, turn back, make a new plan knowing the challenges already encountered)
6 - Bring in new resources (packed provisions and a 2-way radio)
7 - Go after your goal with focus and purpose (knew what to expect so headed confidently toward it with no fear and no doubt)
I’m sure I could have made it to Seal Rock on my first outing but, it would have taken longer, it would have been much harder work going against the wind and tide, it would have caused fear and grief for my family, it was dangerous to go without a life jacket and if I made it to the island I would be afraid of going back. Don’t go into dangerous waters without first letting someone else know where you are going. Don’t go after your goal without the proper equipment and the knowledge needed to confidently attain it. Calculate your risks in life and in business. Your goals will come much more easily and you will enjoy the feeling of victory even more.