This summer I took on a challenge (opportunity) that was presented to me from my dear friend Kate. She said “do you want to go on a yoga/kayak/wilderness adventure?” Without much thought, I felt a “hell yes” stir inside of me and I followed my instincts. The description of the trip was for a beginner that had not kayaked, which neither of us had. We were both seeking a connection to nature and to experience new things in life…really to slow down our pace and enjoy life in a new way. We are both workaholics and have been focused on the “pause”, so this was the perfect chance to do that. We had no idea what we were truly in for.
Day one was about repacking to fit our five-day gear in a kayak, preparing to flip the kayak, rescue ourselves, be rescued…yes, I said beginner. Then we battled 35km winds against us as we paddled six hours out into the wilderness. There were so many lessons over the next few days that reminded me of life and business…here are just a few of them.
You Have More Within You
As we crossed the last channel, the whitecaps emerged and having never experienced anything like this, fear set in. Our guide said “just paddle like you have never paddled” …inside I thought to myself, well I haven’t ever paddled. There was a huge obstacle in front of us. Kate was in front of me and for the next hour we dug deep and just – kept - paddling. I screamed, grunted, called to God for help. You know that moment I am taking about; the one where you don’t think you have inside of you what you need to cross the chasm that you are presented with. Then, my friend Kate hit the shore. She was my guiding light. She turned around and I was right there. She said that the feeling of her own accomplishment was incredible and then to turn and see me right there, was just as powerful. Half of our group did not make it and had to be towed in.
There was no time to pause and really take in what we had just accomplished as now we had to set up camp, in the middle of Georgian Bay, on a rock, in a two-man tent. What were we thinking? Later that evening, Kate and I shared an amazing conversation about the human spirit and what we truly have available in our reserves. Kate shared some wisdom with me that we only use 60% of what is available to us and when we think we are ‘done’, we have so much more available to us. That day proved this to both of us! We accomplished something that previous to that, if you had asked us, we would have both said “no way.” What more is possible for you that you have blocked what you think is possible? You have more within you to create what you desire.
Group Think
Our guide was an expert in her field. She shared many stories from her wilderness experiences. She was truly impressive. As true as this point was, she did not want input from others. The stories she shared created a culture of “not enough” very quickly within our group. This was 12 inexperienced women who desired an experience. Our initial thought was that we would have a peaceful, beautiful connection with nature and do things that we hadn’t done before.
Many people attempted to share their experiences and stories and they were shut down and taken over. At some point, we all offered what we thought was an idea we could bring to the group, only to be told we were wrong. By the second day, everyone conformed. Out of fear and self-doubt, we all followed what the leader said. A group of confident, successful women in their own world, became conformists. Then came the group think. Even when a question was asked, everyone looked to the guide to tell us what to do.
This was such an example for me of how organizations can fall into group think, when the leader does not openly welcome other people’s insights. The best organizations listen to everyone and then make decisions. When this doesn’t happen, people shut down and stop thinking for themselves. We all did!
Connection, Collaboration and Competition
I am a huge believer in collaboration and connection. Ask good questions, listen to people, lean in and truly understand another human being. Every single person had something deeply amazing about them, when you take the time to learn that. Our guide did not focus on connection and instead focused on competition. It was all about being the best, being the strongest, going the fastest.
We also had this incredible yoga master. She was the complete opposite and to have both on this trip, heightened the importance of connection. She gave us the time to breathe, to connect, to pause. She asked questions, she went deep into our souls.
Without connection and collaboration, competition was bread. People started telling others what to do and how to do it.
Think about what happens behind the scenes with people when you don’t focus on building connection. We are hard wired for connection and without it, there is pain and suffereing.
Paddle with Peace
On the final day of our trip, I knew that we had another 5-6 hours of paddling in front of us. That morning, the winds had shifted and they would again be coming at us versus supporting us. At first, I started to step into fear. Then I remembered the resilience we had built within us over the past few days. I dug deep into the fact that Kate and I had found power within each other, that we had laughed and found connection between us through the struggle. I knew that together, we had stepped into a new world, one filled with connection, collaboration, love, joy, power and strength. At that very moment, this new thought entered my thoughts…what if you paddle with peace, no matter what?
What if you choose peace, in the midst of the chaos, fear, struggle, and effort? What if you could choose a different feeling for yourself? I decided in that moment that I would paddle with peace all day. It didn’t matter if the winds came; it didn’t matter if I was judged; it didn’t matter if I was good enough. When we started out that day, the winds shifted again and were at our backs, the guide slowed down and started pointing out the nature all around us, we stopped on a rock to talk about our experience… we leaned into connection, joy and peace. It was beautiful.
I wonder if I would have noticed if I had not made a choice to shift my own thinking. Paddle with peace. It is available to use every moment of every day. No matter what you are going through in your life, business, family, career – you can choose to experience joy and peace
Choose an area of your life that is filled with effort, pain, hard, struggle and ask yourself how you can start to paddle with peace from this point forward. What would that be and what is the first step you can take?

Author's Bio: 

Laurie Hawkins is a curator, catalyst and connector. She is a certified business success strategist, speaker, radio show host, trainer and leader who drives revenue, results and raving fans along with fulfillment and flow. Laurie’s reputation is built on her unique ability to enable strategy and soul to coexist. She is a thought-leader with the rare ability to both inspire and create actionable strategies.

Daily, she inspires people across all of her platforms; Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Podcast, Blog and Live to create impact and influence. An award-winning leader in business for more than 25 years, Laurie is focused on using her expertise to guide high-level leaders and business owners to become influencers in their industry, business and life.