Kayaking Through Currents and Reaching Your Team Destination

kayaking team currentsLate this past summer, during a trip to Savannah, Georgia, my wife and I went kayaking – and I was reminded of the danger that strong currents and distractions can present, even when you begin with the sincere intention of reaching your destination.

We left from Tybee Island, and were travelling across the Savannah River towards Little Tybee.

From the landing where we put into the water, there was the ocean to our left and the river continuing to our right.  Little Tybee was straight ahead, with some marshland to the right.

When we put into the water, our destination was clear and we were both excited to begin the adventure together and enjoy the beautiful surroundings on our way there.

What we did not realize was that those beautiful surroundings, and a bit of adversity that we had not anticipated, would keep us from reaching our goal.

Less than a hundred yards from the shore, as we neared the middle of the river, we began to notice the surprising power of the current.  The tide was going out, and although we were rowing across what only seemed like a distance of two hundred yards, the sweeping currents of the outbound tide became much more noticeable.

If we stopped to talk or look around for only a moment, the front of our kayaks would turn toward the ocean with the outgoing tide.

And even when we became aware of the tide, and gave a bit more energy to keeping the front of our kayaks pointed toward our destination, the surroundings provided a number of distractions that drew our attention away from that goal on a couple of occasions.  When we looked toward the marsh, or shifted our focus for a few moments to a boat our on the ocean, it was amazing to find how quickly our kayaks began to drift off course.

Ultimately, we had a nice time together, but we never did make it all the way to Little Tybee…

So why is this important to you and your team?

Well, I’m glad you asked.  Let me explain –

It is usually somewhere around mid to late January that many basketball teams find their enthusiasm and intensity begin to slip.  The excitement of the new season has worn off, the end of the season is still six or eight weeks away, and they find themselves caught up in an exhausting and difficult routine of practices and conference games.

But it is during these stretches that championship teams will maintain focus and continue to push toward the goal they identified during preseason team meetings and workouts.

It is easy to get distracted in the middle of your season, or in the middle of your project, if you allow your focus to shift away from your goal for too long.

The distractions of friends, or emails, or other unproductive activities can, in the middle of your team’s journey, cause you to drift off course and lose focus.  The currents of daily routines and obligations can be more powerful than you think.

Hebrews 2:1 tells us that “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”

One benefit of teams is that they can help us to stay focused on our destination and protect us from drifting… and teams may also sometimes catch themselves drifting with the current.

It takes a strong leader to point out that the team is off course, and to remind his or her teammates of their goal and its benefits.  Every team, at some point in their journey, needs to adjust their focus and recommit to the destination that they had agreed upon…

Virtually every person who has made a new year’s resolution knows the feeling of having set a goal only to find that distractions of everyday activities can cause you to drift at times away from your intended goal.

The only way to overcome those currents is to provide reminders and encouragements to yourself and your team.  Post pictures of your destination.  Talk about it and what it will feel like, look like, and sound like.

Do not allow distractions to keep your team from reaching the goal you identified and were excited about at your journey’s beginning.  The determination to remain committed and focused and excited about your destination – and overcome the currents – will be the key to your team success.

If your team would benefit from a fun athletic team building event to refocus them on their goal and boost group morale, I encourage you to contact me to discuss how a team development day can improve your organization.

You can also follow Sean on twitter or take a moment to connect with Sean on LinkedIn to get additional information and teamwork resources!