A few years back I journeyed to Croatia for an adventurous vacation. Little did I know that I would learn valuable business lessons.
It’s Better to Know the Risks and Prepare
Perhaps if I had known what canyonning was I would have approached the day with apprehension or a least dressed for the occasion. Borrowing Keds that had no traction and were many sizes too big, just didn’t cut it.
Going down a steep slippery descent (it had just rained) meant more than just using ropes as banisters, it meant using my brains – where ever they might be. For much of the way down I did the tushy crawl or butting as the guide called it. When we reached the Cetina River, I thought I was home free. Boy was I wrong!
You Can’t Win Them All
I jumped into the water, which even with a wet suit on, was chilly. The current was strong and swimming to the other side was exhausting. My reward – watching everyone else get to the other side to see a waterfall after I swam back in defeat.
Sometimes You Just Gotta Have Faith
The next test: floating down stream feet first through rapids. Bumpy, but doable. Then I eyed a narrow passage with water rushing through it. There was no way around it. I heard the guide say “trust me, just go feet first. You really don’t want to swim upstream to get back.” So through I went. Had I known what lay ahead I might have chosen to swim upstream.
I went down more rapids until I came to a waterfall. The canyon walls were vertical and all rock. “Now what,” I thought. This time the only way out was up and around rather than through. I scaled the walls until I reached a narrow shelf, which I slid across. I chose to be harnessed in and use a rope for assistance. I was now past the falls and about 20 or 30 feet above sparkling clear still water. The guide smiled, “you have several choices: jump, rappel, rappel and jump, or stay put and die.” I chose to rappel and jump from about 10 feet. From there, I floated gently downstream until reaching the final destination where I crawled onto shore.
Build a Reserve of Skills During Easy Times
With rapids rated only 2-3 out of 6, rafting wasn’t much of a challenge so we concentrated on learning tricks like spinning 360 degrees while going down a rapid.
Rewards Can Make a Struggle Worthwhile
Biking down mountain roads required balance for hairpin turns and hand strength for braking. The reward was a wonderful lunch with a family that still runs a 600 year old flour mill powered by the river.
Going With the Flow
The weather didn’t permit us to kayak on the open Adriatic Sea. Instead we kayaked in an inlet and took a hike.
Challenges, in business or otherwise, tap into a range of mental and emotional skills. Sometimes you rise to the challenges — and sometimes you get all wet. Sometimes new skills are learned swiftly, and sometimes it takes all that you’ve got to master them. The important thing is to keep plugging at it, keep climbing that mountain or forging that stream (forgive the metaphors, folks), and reach out for help and knowledge to overcome each hurdle. Great entrepreneurs are not born perfect, they embrace challenge and work hard at their craft.
That being said, my next vacation was on a beach where my biggest hurdle was how to get from the floating bar to my lounge chair without getting up.
Any business lessons you learned on your time off?