Before I moved to the dry, arid plains of Southern Alberta I lived in Ontario – home to literally thousand and thousands of lakes. And some pretty big ones too! Yes it really was a paddlers paradise.
I would head out regularly with a group of University friends for some epic canoe trips – long multi day trips filled with a full day of paddling as well as some pretty crazy portages. Occasionally we would have to cross a large lake. I mean a really large lake that might take 2-3 hours of paddling. Those were tough. Forget the risk of waves or a storm catching you while you were out in the middle, it was the challenge of paddling in one direction for hours on end. I learned quickly how important it was to paddle in a straight line or risk turning a three hour paddle into four.
The key? Seasoned flat-water canoers will tell you to pick a spot on the other side of the lake – a dip in the tree line perhaps. And focus on it. Really focus on it! The key was to know exactly where you wanted to go. Tell everyone in the canoe. Focus on it the entire time. Make sure every stroke took you closer to it – and just paddle hard.
An interesting lesson when you think about it. How often are we on teams or a part of an organization that lacks that clear sense of direction – of purpose. I’m not talking vague vision or mission statements. I’m talking an absolutely concrete, specific, measurable objective.
When there is a common, crystal clear objective not only can everyone work towards that goal in unison but more importantly you can get down to business and just paddle hard!
edited June 14th, 2021 – originally posted April 8, 2011