Meet My Life Coach

I knew we were on to something. I was being introduced for my presentation to the leadership team of a game-changing project by a Fortune 10 company.

As the project leader drew on a few personal connections, he said, “Joe’s work with us is built on a common language he and I both share and speak — the language of whitewater.”

And with that, I begin to frame the concepts and values of this sport as I learned them from the river to support the company’s mission for one of the most exciting and important research projects happening in America today.

The River as the Coach

Most people have NOT tried whitewater kayaking. I understand this. In my secret job as a pollster for everything whitewater, I constantly survey people about their ideas of paddling a boat in rapids — their beliefs, perceptions, willingness, and objections to this hard-to-quantify activity that lures and frightens simultaneously.

The feedback is overwhelmingly fear-based as there are things to fear. Tipping over. Swimming in a river. Getting out of our comfort zone.

Fear of losing control

The thought of sharing control doesn’t come naturally. But that’s exactly what happens when we paddle whitewater — control becomes a shared experience with the river. Why? Because the river, unlike us, doesn’t take breaks. It keeps going. Never stops. Never calls a time-out to re-group.

Yet, with a little context, the strategies for our success on the river are beautifully simple, powerfully revealing, and often confusingly counter-intuitive.

Kind of like life.

Re-united with My Coach

For the first time in six years, whitewater paddling is a part of my regular routine. And I’ve signed up with my most trusted coach over the years — one who is never short on answers, is on time to every call, and intuitively understands the nature of where I am today vs. what’s around the next bend.

That coach is the River.

As I spend more time with this coach, I discover new parallels between our lives on the river and off. My lessons and concepts apply directly to our pursuit of better health, positive choices, greater self awareness, deeper gratitude, and stronger relationships.

Here are a few of favorites courtesy of my Coach:

Dance over Fight: River currents, like life currents, are much stronger than you and me. They are a pain to fight. Beautiful with which to work. Choose wisely.

Obstacle Navigation: Do you focus on the obstacle or the path around it? In whitewater, we don’t focus on the rocks. Instead, we focus on the path through the water (called a “line”) that gets us around the rocks. Choose lines over rocks.

Obstacle Navigation, Part 2: There is an interesting thing about obstacles in a path of energy — which is exactly what rocks in a river represent. When you are close to the rocks, you may find MORE energy and force with which to work. You just have to be aware of it. In other words, the real energy to harness in your life may be much closer to the obstacle than you think.

Seamless Next: Mistakes happen. Plans re-adjust. The options change, On the river, there is no break, and the conditions are always changing. Shifting gears is an instinctive and real-time activity — Plan B happens. Then C. And D. And so on. Seamlessly.

Let Go: If everything I’ve learned in nearly 40 years on the river was to vanish tomorrow but I could take just one lesson with me, it would be this — let go of the baggage, the fear, the mistakes, the negativity and the missed opportunities. This cargo holds you down, clogs your head, and limits your vision. It throws us off our line.

Like whitewater paddling, I know these strategies aren’t for everyone. But I do know that time and time again, I’ve put them — and many other strategies — to work when I really needed to pull through, turn things around, improve, and realize small gains that sometimes became HUGE gains.

Now, I’m ready to help you find your line. Re-examine the obstacles. Make adjustments. Let go. And win. In small steps. Every day.

That’s the core of “5 With Joe,” a guided self-awareness, performance improvement intensive with me as your coach. We launch soon. Want to be first to learn more? Go HEREand I’ll send you details. Our first program starts shortly.

I’ll see you next week with another Sunday Morning Joe.

Joe’s weekly email newsletter, “Sunday Morning Joe,” explores improving performance, aligning with purpose, and overcoming challenge. Subscribe for free→ HERE

“5 With Joe,” a 5-Week Intensive coached by Joe to help you build positive choices, lasting habits, and increased vitality, launches soon. Learn moreHERE