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Awkwardly and Beautifully Out of My Comfort Zone

I am an entrepreneur. In running businesses I make countless decisions every day. Much of that is comfortable. I enjoy the process of asking questions, researching, gathering info and identifying goals so I can consistently make decisions that are in alignment with my personal as well as professional core values.

I also have the mindset, that not being in my comfort zone is a worthwhile, albeit, difficult thing to do at times. Like many others, I enjoy feeling that my life has some predictability and that I am in control in the areas I need to be. While many things in the life of a business owner are unpredictable, there’s still a level of predictability that I ( and I suspect many others) enjoy.

I also recognize I have the desire to grow and expand myself both personally and professionally.

With that inherently comes dis- ease in the opportunities that I both create and that come into my path.

It can feel a bit scary or awkward to do things that are unfamiliar, or things for which we feel ill equipped.

When something is out of my “norm” it is easy to be thrown off a bit. With that said, I also realize I don’t ever want to get too comfortable or too complacent, so I look for those growth opportunities because I know they will be good for me mentally, physically, emotionally and /or spiritually and perhaps professionally as well.

This past weekend I decided to do something out of my norm. I visited a local rowing club to learn how to row. I’ve always loved the experience of being on the water, so whether I am in a canoe, a kayak, or a nice motor boat, I am equally content.

I decided to take advantage of a “Learn how to row” adventure that was available through a local rowing club. I was somewhat surprised to see this was no small row boat- this was an 8 seater!

I showed up bright and early at the edge of the waterfront to find an instructor who was helping other newbies get in the boat. I listened carefully to pick up any info I could glean. (E.g., the bow is actually the front of the boat though you have your back to it, and Stern is the back.) I quickly learned a lot of new vocabulary. After heading up to the parking lot and receiving a 5 minute rowing lesson, we all headed back down to the water.

Just getting into the boat was its own adventure. “Hold onto the oar and don’t let it go.” “No don’t put your hand there” my wise and experienced Bow 2 seat schooled me. “Don’t hold onto the sides of the boat- that’s not going to help you at all. Tilt your blade slightly to help set the boat. “

As my mind was whizzing with all the do’s and don’ts, I managed to successfully sit my bottom onto the tiny sliding seat. I felt off. Crooked. Uncomfortable. Within 3 minutes my thigh began to cramp up, as the woman with the megaphone in the safety boat blasted out instructions – “bend your knees more.” “ Hold the oar by the end”, “let it rest on your thighs,” keep the blade in the water.” “Keep your arms straight out.” I’m pretty sure all those were just to me.

So many things to keep track of for something that looks so simple.

I reminded myself that I was doing something new.

It’s ok that you aren’t getting everything right.

There’s a lot to learn here and you’re going to bumble your way through it, I told myself.

Those were my thoughts as I intensely concentrated on all the instructions I was receiving.

And then it came… the walk of shame… or shall I say the row of shame…. “Bow no 1…” I heard loudly through the megaphone “Don’t look at your own oar…look at the person’s in front of you”

And once again, I reminded myself that I can’t possibly do this “right” – I’ve now only had about 7 minutes of instruction. But oh, that feeling of discomfort-“ I’m not doing it right” was pervasive.

And then…as the mix of both experienced and newbie rowers found some kind of groove, we started gliding. And it was amazing.

The sunshine reflecting off the sky blue water, and feeling that brief period of 7 other people in sync, was pretty special.

Would I liked to have been “a natural”? Oh yeah for sure. Would I have liked to have felt confident and competent. You bet.

But just like many things I’ve done in my life, those things didn’t all come natural at first either.

At one point, the instructor had us do something with our oars that caused the boat to tilt to one side. Then the other. So so uncomfortable. I wondered If we’d be the first boat to overturn.

And then I realized, when the boat began to tilt, I just instinctively adjusted my position. I adapted to the immediate circumstance. And while uncomfortable, I later realized it was really sort of a metaphor for life.

Sometimes we tilt, and we have to rebalance. Sometimes there are things we just don’t feel great about in the moment, and yet there are rich life lessons just waiting for us if we’ll pay attention.

I want to be a person that challenges myself as long as I have life and breath. That means doing new things.

I want to experience humility both in situations I feel confident and in control, and those where I clearly am bumbling my way through.

I was also determined to try this as I know doing something new and different is great for my brain. Changing things up, trying new things also adds so much spice to life.

The experienced rowers shared how rowing forces them to focus on what is happening in the here and now. You have to be watching the person in front of you, taking instruction, and not anything else. As one veteran rower put it, “you can’t be thinking about what to make for dinner, or that problem you are having at work.”

The thought of being fully present, getting in a full body workout, being on the water and enjoying all the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and Kitsap in particular, checks all the boxes for me.

And having moments where someone else is making the decisions and I am taking instruction is a beautiful and welcomed change, even if I’m in my discomfort zone for a time.


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