Tofino Paddle Surf Stand Up Paddle BoardingLast month Darryl and I decided to check out stand up paddle (SUP) boarding. We were excited because it covered a few important things all at once: spending time together, discovering a shared activity (he golfs, I run or cycle), and being active.

Also, in my business it’s always great to meet new people, expand my network, and ultimately make more friends.

So the plan was:

  • Take a SUP lesson
  • See if we both like it
  • Have fun
  • Meet more people

Great idea, right? It was, until I fell into a familiar groove and completely gapped on the plan! Here’s what happened…

We arrived at the beach – it was sunny, warm, and the water was gorgeous! The instructor and organizer rounded us up, got us signed in, paid, and ready to start. We hauled all the boards out: which was a “2 per board please, don’t trip on the ankle strap, careful of the fin…” kind of thing.

I’d been out twice before, and was feeling pretty cocky. I assumed I was likely the most accomplished in our little group. I was the first one standing and feeling pretty good – proud even – as I began to paddle around the little bay. I looked over at the instructor and the other organizer expecting to see approval, maybe even a little respect (yes, I was that kid in school). Instead of the respect I was hoping for; I saw concern and puzzlement. His expression said, “What exactly is she doing?”

He had also been watching Darryl and said to him, “that’s great, your stroke looks pretty good, keep that up.” Then he Man Sitting In Valleypaddled over to me and corrected my arms, hands, paddle position, length of the stroke, stance…pretty much everything! At the same time I overheard someone say to Darryl “you seem to be a natural at this”. Shu-liiiip!! Right there it happened. I slipped into my groove, and I didn’t have a clue it had happened.

Let me tell you a little about my groove. No one has ever said I’m a natural at anything related to sports or physical activity. Ever. What I lack in natural ability I have learned to make up for in commitment, practice, more practice, and even more practice. My motto has always been “If I work hard at this I will get it.” And mostly that has proven to be true. Most of the time I become proficient – if not excellent – at what I take on but it doesn’t come easy. It takes work.

That’s the groove right there. My approach to many things is pushing and striving, and in so many situations it has worked. So I kept doing it, and it kept working, and I kept doing it… then one day it became a groove. I didn’t have to think about it. I simply did it. Head down, focused, work and work and work my way to my end goal. As I mentioned, it’s effective but it’s exhausting and frankly I’m over it. Apparently though, it’s not done with me.

I didn’t realize what a well-worn groove it was until that beautiful evening. When I heard the comment to Darryl I immediately fell into it – the deep groove of compensating with hard work for a lack of natural ability.

I buckled down, took all the tips and instruction and I began paddling with a VENGEANCE. I motored up and down the shoreline and it happened! The practice and effort worked! My sense of accomplishment flowed through me as I felt the technique coming easier and my board moving faster. I was really getting it! After a time I noticed I was sweating with the exertion – which wasn’t a surprise for me – but no one else was sweating AT ALL. I stopped and watched them for a moment.

They were about 200 metres away paddling leisurely around each other, close to the little bay we had started in. Darryl was deep in conversation one of the other newbies.

My first thought was “what are they doing? Don’t they know we’re here to learn how to paddleboard properly?” I’m actually embarrassed to admit there was a smidgeon of derision at their lack of effort and trying. Then at EXACTLY that moment I remembered why we were there.

We were there to meet people and we wanted to do something fun TOGETHER… OH, right! And then I started to laugh.

I had so easily slipped into my “hard work” groove with zero awareness or hesitation. That part of me that can buckle down, commit and get it done is another one of my super-powers but only when I’m wielding it with awareness and choice. In fact I kind of adore that I have it in me. Many times it is the source of loving mockery by Darryl, friends, and myself. So yes, I laughed out loud at myself! I noticed what had happened and made a mental note in order to better catch it next time.

Then I paddled over to the group and did a little visiting before the lesson wrapped up. I might have missed the point the first time but I am a fast learner! 😉

I’m curious about these grooves that happen, when we’ve done something a certain way for so long…how much attention does it take to do it differently? I’ve found that only when we’re conscious of it happening in the first place can we choose whether to do it or not. Laughter and understanding (especially from ourselves) makes it easier to let go of the groove.

three color doorsThe key to a groove like this is realizing we don’t want to get rid of the behavior or way of being but INSTEAD we want to expand. Expand so we have choices. Choices mean we’re awake and aware and not on auto-pilot.

Think of a groove that you often slide into, list 3 other choices you could make. Share your brilliance in the comments below…