Learning to Trust – Business Lessons from Learning to Waterski
stalks follows me will know that I bang on a lot about websites being like islands. Well I visited a real island last week. I was taken to Barbados on account of it being my big birthday, half a century! And I got to learn to waterski. Club Barbados is all-inclusive and waterskiing is one of the activities included.
What’s waterskiing got to do with business I hear you ask. There’s four lessons I learnt from this experience, so let me explain.
If you’ve ever tried water skiing yourself, then you’ll know it looks a lot easier than it is! What could be easier than being pulled along the back of a boat?
My partner, Andy, went first, and even though it’s been a few years since he last tried it he got up on those skis and travelled for quite a few minutes along the back of the boat, until the instructor stopped. No problem.
That’s what I thought. However, your brain takes over your body and tells it to do things that it thinks it should be doing rather than what the instructor is telling you to do which is the complete opposite of what you feel is right.
“Tuck your heels under your butt, relax and let the boat pull you up” my instructor kept calling out encouragingly to me.
But my first day’s attempts I could not get my ‘butt’ out of the water, much less relax.
“Leave the water for the fish” my instructor told me as I spluttered and coughed after each failed attempt.
Am I ever going to ‘get’ this waterskiing? I began questioning my desire to waterski. Why did I want to do this anyway? It’s wet, difficult, tiring, water keeps going up my nose every time I fall in which is a horrible sensation; waterskiing maybe just isn’t for me.
“Try again tomorrow, you got to keep practising then you will get it. It take practice”. My instructor was not giving up on me, neither was my partner, “We’ll have another go tomorrow” he reassures me. OK – I’m not sure how positive I feel about another attempt.
The second day went better. After 3 goes of being dragged down by my ‘butt’ I told myself to trust what the instructor was saying, relax and let go of my natural fear instinct to tense up, and actually did manage to squat on the skis above the level of the water without my ‘butt’ dragging me under! The fifth attempt I ‘got’ the sensation of being pulled above the water and dared stand up a bit straighter, but I got so excited about making it above water, whooped for joy, lost concentration, lost balance and fell back in the water and deprived the fish of more water!
And damn! My phone ran out of memory so there was no photographic evidence to prove that I had done it (albeit for a few seconds) and now I was too exhausted to have another go!
Which meant I had a great excuse to go out a third time! And this time I was determined that I was going to do this thing!
Which I did a couple of days later because now my shoulders and arms were aching quite a bit.
Up first attempt! Resist whooping. Concentrate. “Straighten your arms – S L O W L Y”.
I’m upright. I’m balanced. Bit of a wobble. It’s ok, I’m still upright. I slowly let my arms straighten. Don’t fall. I’m still upright. I’m still balanced.
OH MY GOSH! I’M DOING IT!
Part of me is exhilarated that I’m upright skimming along the top of the wash created by the boat. And part of me is terrified I’m going fall in! But hey, forget that! I’m upright! I’m waterskiing! I’m actually waterskiing!!
The 4 business lessons I took away:
1) Trust the expert’s advice – Particularly when it’s something that’s new to you. There’s no point trying to reinvent the wheel if someone has done it before you. Better to learn from their mistakes than take the long road of repeating the mistakes the experts have already learnt from.
2) Let go of fear – Fear is your natural instinct to keep you safe from the unknown. If others are doing it, then so can you.
3) Practice – It takes time to get good at anything, be it business or physical skills, so allow yourself time to learn, practice and hone skills
4) Support – Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed – when you feel like quitting they’ll keep you going because they believe in you even if you temporarily don’t.
Ready to trust and let go?
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