Row, Row, Row Your Boat: Lessons Learned

row boat
#58 my trusty transporter down the Dnieper

“Learning is like rowing upstream; not to advance is to drop back”
~Chinese proverb

I took my first trip down the Dnieper in a row boat a couple of weeks ago. It was a great afternoon with a couple of the students, and a few lessons learned along the way.

Lesson #1
To get somewhere you have to first leave the dock

THIS  can be the HARDEST part!

Natalie and I debated for a few minutes before even stepping in the boat since neither of us had any previous rowing experience. Like all good beginners we got stuck trying to just get out from among the other boats and into the open water. It was frustrating.

There are times when I have amazing ideas and carefully constructed methods of execution, but “stepping into the boat” is the first point of faith meeting my fear and it makes me hesitate. Other times I have zero motivation to move those ideas from my head/computer screen into reality because getting away from the crowd is difficult and navigating a new idea can be tricky business.

Lesson #2
You may have to change your team

Natalie and I had zero idea what we were doing, so after watching us struggle to no avail our friends came back to our rescue and we switched partners (but seriously who thought it was a good idea to put the two newbies and the two pros together?!) Now it isn’t that Natalie and I don’t work well together, because we do, but in this instance our inexperience was hindering us from accomplishing our goal.

Most likely the team you use to start undertaking a dream will not be the team that finishes the process with you.

Sometimes you need certain people to gain the momentum needed because they have the understanding or the skill set. Now maybe those skills can be learned (I figured out how to row eventually that afternoon), but it takes time and maybe it’s easier to learn it on the open water rather than trying to dodge a hundred metal boats at the dock.

Lesson #3
Getting somewhere takes work.

Obvious I know, but if you just leave it to the current you will probably NOT end up where you want to be. It’s that whole aim at nothing and that’s what you will get concept.

After Caleb and I were in the middle of the river waiting for our friends to join up, we noticed the current was actually taking us back to the dock so we had to do a little more work to get further downstream.

Sometimes I get started on things (like keeping this blog updated) and I have such lofty goals, but by the time I manage to get away from the dock I am already tired, but the danger in resting so soon is that you just end up back at the dock.

Now it is good to rest and relax, even God took a day off from creating the universe, but you have to be aware of when to rest and when to work. I get this one all mixed up because I either want to do nothing or I want to work 24/7 and conquer the world too.

Lesson #4
Don’t be afraid to go against the flow; it helps build your strength.

At the end of our time rowing I had to go against the current to get back to where we needed to be. It felt like we were going absolutely nowhere and my muscles were screaming in protest at my efforts, but it had to be done.

Going against the flow is rarely fun. People don’t understand what you are trying to do and it is irritatingly slow work, but it is essential nonetheless. I am pretty certain no one has ever tried to live out a dream or impact the world without sometime meeting opposition.

Not all resistance is bad, and even though it is a painful process it helps strengthen you for the future.

So those are my lessons from an afternoon of rowing.
Which of these most speaks to you at the moment?

  • Are you looking at the boat and deciding if it is even worth attempting a new venture?
  • Are you trying to get out of the dock? Do you have the right team to get started?
  • Maybe you are somewhere in the middle of the river trying to learn to row?
  • Have you settled for letting the current take you wherever or are you in the fight against the flow?


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