When You Face the Headwinds #124 

by Sue Hawkes

When You Face the Headwinds #124 

I love being active outside in the summer. I wake up full of energy and excited for the many things I could be doing.  

Paddleboarding is my newest passion. It’s an activity that provides an equal amount of Zen, enjoyment of being on the water, and terrific results without feeling like a workout. For me, it’s in a similar category to Pilates and yoga. I’m still a beginner, but I love what it’s teaching me. 

While on the water, my mind can wander, and I find clarity in the meditative repetition of the waves, birds, and paddling. While paddleboarding yesterday, it occurred to me the activity is a great metaphor for business and leadership.  

While paddling with the wind, I was gliding through the water and appreciating that the waves and turbulence were present, but not very challenging. My mind and body were calm; I was in the flow with the waves. I was present and easily focused on where I was going. In fact, I was focused on the other shore, wondering if we could paddle around the entire lake. It seemed easily possible. I was excited about accomplishing that goal.  

Once I turned into the wind, it became more challenging. I had to dig in as I paddled and remind myself to focus ahead, not where I was. Progress was slower and required more effort. I was still enjoying myself, but it felt like work. I was more tense, conscious of using my strength while moving became more effortful. My focus was closer to the board, citing progress by landmarks on the lake. I wasn’t focused on the other shore; it seemed too distant with my current level of effort.  

I was grateful we hadn’t attempted to paddle around the entire lake. I questioned whether we’d have made it all the way with the wind. My doubt arose with the challenge of the headwinds (of course, we would have made it – we had to get home!). 

It’s not much different in business. As leaders, we’re constantly thrilling with the wind at our backs and then rising to meet the headwinds as they approach (including your own doubt). The question is, how do you apply the mental framework of having the wind at your back when you face the headwinds, so you don’t lose sight of where you’re going?  

This is where intentional greatness lives. 

Sue HawkesWhen You Face the Headwinds #124