Paddle Through the Fog
A cool breeze blows across the water as I gently lowered myself into my canoe. It was in the middle of summer, and as I often did around 500 AM, I was going fishing. Being familiar with the lake and all it’s best fishing holes, I knew exactly where I was going. One caveat, the fog that morning was so thick I could barely see 10 feet in front of me.
Pushing away gently from the dock, I steered my canoe in the direction I wanted to go and gently paddled. It was a perfect morning. The lake smooth as glass, not another soul out on the water. Just me, my thoughts, and a destination that promised good fishing.
It became very apparent one minute in to my trip across the lake, that the fog was much thicker than I earlier anticipated. So much so that I began getting disoriented, and losing the direction I was attempting to go.
I paddled in circles for about 20 minutes before finding shore. In the completely wrong place. Undeterred by being in the wrong place, I turned back out and ventured into the fog. The same story twice more, until I finally made it to my original planned destination. Where I then sat and proceeded to fish and pull in some of the best largemouth bass I’ve ever caught.
How often does life feel this way?
We have some desired goal, but as we set out everything gets foggy. The path becomes unclear, and our lack of clarity on where we are causes us to get disoriented.
In this situation, we see time and time again, people quit. They turn around. Giving up entirely and saying “I guess I just wasn’t supposed to fish today.”
One of the biggest pieces of wisdom I heard from John Maxwell in regards to dreams and destinations was this:
“Trying to achieve a dream or goal is like driving a car at night. You are just trying to get home, but you can only see as far as your headlights illuminate. So many people use this as an out to not move at all, when all you need to do is go as far as the light illuminate.”
How true is that?!
We have a desired destination in life, but we can’t see it because our headlights only shine so far ahead.
Back to my fishing story. I knew where I wanted to go, but as I got away from shore, it was very apparent that it was going to be much more difficult to get there than I originally thought.
I don’t know what your background is when it comes to boating, especially canoeing, but it’s not always as easy as it seems, and there are definite problems that will pop up.
Here’s what I know:
You will never get to your destination if you don’t at first leave the shore.
You must push away from the dock, from safety, and get started! I was a camp counselor for several years and taught canoeing. One of the biggest things young kids struggled with in canoeing was the fear of leaving shore. But once they did, they were able to realize the real joy and power of being out in open water.
Canoe’s are not stable.
The smooth bottom of a canoe does not make it a stable ship. They rock side to side, and if you get sideways in a current you’re likely to overturn. This is no different from life. If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve made some decisions to push out from shore, and as soon as you got felt unstable. You didn’t know if you would stay afloat. But somehow you managed to keep your boat right side up.
In the moments of fog, it’s easy to put the paddle down and just sit.
Life gets unclear. We often think we’re on the right path, then moments of fog come up that cause us to just sit. That can be one of the biggest mistakes, sitting still. In his book Outwitting the Devil, Napoleon Hill states that the biggest tool the devil uses against humans is the habit of drifting. Having no direction, and no momentum towards a definite end is the surest way to die years before being buried.
Canoeing is a great analogy for life as there are so many elements to being proficient in the water and being able to get from point A to point B.
Whether you’re starting a new business, getting going on your fitness journey, starting a new relationship, or getting your financial house in order. The principles apply.
Push away from the shore, recognize the boat will rock, and never stop paddling.
Think through your life right now. What stage of the journey are you on?
Are you still sitting on the shore?
Are you just pushing off and feeling unstable?
Have you stopped paddling toward your destination?
Now that you’ve identified where you are, you can make a change to keep you on the path. It matters not where you are, but rather that you have a destination and truly decide to get there.
Stay the course.
As always: Stay Humble, Stay Hungry.