Are you rowing, riding, or resisting?

If you’ve done any white water rafting, you know how exciting it can be. On the first rapid of my first trip I remember the guide yelling, “Row. Row! Row fast!!!” I didn’t want to go fast. I wanted to slow down, to take the rapid nice and easy.

I’ve since learned that if you travel down a river at or below the speed of the river’s current, you have no control over where you’re going. You can see the rocks and whirlpools ahead. But you have no say as to whether you hit them or go around them. Plus, it actually takes more energy to slow your boat than it would to speed it up. By going slower than the current, sometimes you may get through the rapids unscathed. But you will look back and know, “I was just lucky.” By exceeding the speed of the current, the person operating the rudder can give direction to the raft and make sure the raft takes the safest route through the rapids. I remember after that first run, we gave each other “high fives” like a bunch of high school kids. We felt excited, not merely lucky.

That’s called taking control of your life. Your direction. Your destiny. We are only victims when we choose to be. Everyone encounters rocks, rapids and whirlpools. It’s a fact of life. The choice is to leash the power of the river to make our own path rather than exhaust ourselves resisting it or just let it take us along randomly.


Tony Mayo, Top Executive Coach, is located in Reston, Virginia 20190