Dissolving Fear on a Whitewater Raft

White water rafting

White water rafting on the French Broad River

Do you want to grow your business or organization?

Many of us want it, but when we get serious, start doing things differently, fear appears.  

Acting out of fear never gets good business results (see the story of Martha from an earlier blog).  Still, fear comes up.

I am learning to face my fears, one at a time, and to take action based on a deeper knowing (not on the fear).  Whitewater rafting helped me learn how to do this.

After years of little contact, my cousins proposed my family meet in the mountains of North Carolina for a vacation last summer. Their dream was to go whitewater rafting – one of my greatest fears, after my sister almost died doing it years ago.

I was terrified of being out of control, endangering my life and watching my family take crazy risks.  I signed up for a kayak trip down a quieter part of the river while my cousins and siblings roared down the whitewater.

white water fun

I am in the light blue helmut – laughing!

Once I got to the desk of the outfitter to pay for the trip, my cousins were egging me on to do their trip. They insisted it would be fun.

Something started to shift within me. At that moment, I felt a calm inside. I did not know what would happen, but somehow I had a sense that everything would be fine. I realized I may never have the opportunity to do this with them again.

So, against everything I had been saying and thinking for weeks, I followed a deeper feeling and agreed to do the whitewater trip.

We began with instruction from guides who would be on the boat as we faced class 3 and 4 rapids. They told us this was not an amusement park ride and people did get hurt. I took a grain of comfort in hearing no one had died.

They told us how to sit on the boat, what would happen if we fell out, and most importantly, how to follow their lead as they guided us down the river. Then we signed away all rights to hold the rafting company liable. Still, that strange calm stayed with me. I was not sure why, but I was happy to be there.

Going down the river was amazing. The river was raging. The fast flowing river sharpened the mind quickly as we focused on what was required to keep the boat moving efficiently. How good this felt!

Our guide knew the river like the back of his hand – he knew where the rapids changed; where the sharp rocks and sunken cars were hidden. We just had to follow his lead and paddle when he said PADDLE. Stop when he said STOP. His surety gave us great confidence.

white water rafting fun

Now we were having fun!

It was thrilling to be part of that wild water – yet also feel safe. At the end of our first run we stopped to have lunch and we all elected to do the run again! This time the guide showed us some tricks, spinning the boat around, deliberately stopping in the middle of a huge rapid called the ‘wash tub’. It was incredibly fun.

What does this mean for business?

For me, I see that my old fears are based in stories that do not usually fit the current circumstance and don’t help me get where I want to go. They also have the quality of feeling old and boring since I have lived and believed these stories for so long.

Recognizing these qualities of fear inside me is helpful, so I don’t take the fear too seriously.

I still regularly feel fear – when I approach a CEO of a business about potentially working together. Knowing that fear is based on a story stuck in the past, helps me move through it.

Distilling it down, two steps are particularly helpful.

One – Focus on the potential positive results.

Two – Connect to and trust a deeper feeling in the body.  I find connection gives me the knowledge and confidence to take the next best step.

Awareness of the positive results focuses me. When I connect with this deeper feeling and act on it, it never fails me. Never. Can’t say that about too many things.

Are there real dangers in the world to be avoided? Of course. The body knows this as well. But if you listen closely and tune in to your body, you may discover the fear you feel is not required.

Please share your experience with fear. What is a big fear you have been able to overcome? How did you do it?

If you are an entrepreneur or an entrepreneurial executive or CEO (or would like to be) let’s talk about how you can best align your inner and outer resources, move through fear, and get your best results in 2015.  Let me hear from you here.

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