“A river cuts through a rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence.”
Welcome to The Confluence! Dan and I have been at the helm of Penobscot Adventures for 15 years. During that time, we we have been constantly reminded of how rivers are a reflection of life. Earlier this Summer I wrote an article in the Bangor Daily News. about how rivers are a fertile backdrop for adventure sharing with others. For our first publication of The Confluence, however, I choose to write about myself. Like rivers, we all start somewhere blind of where we will end up. Before Penobscot Adventures, I didn’t think of myself as persistent, powerful or ever cut out to be a leader. It is now, after 15 years, I stand before you a commander and master of both choppy waters and smooth. For your consideration, here are 5 (of the many) important life lessons I have learned from my ceaseless role as wife, outfitter and mother.
1. Never underestimate the power of cordiality. Start every single interaction with others with a smile and a sincere welcoming presence. We are social creatures who reap the benefits of positive interactions with each other. It all started with my first smile with my first baby girl. That connection has carried over to how I run my business as well. Real human progress can only thrive in an environment of mutual respect. Mutual respect can only happen if people feel welcomed and valued. There is nothing more welcoming than a warm smile rich with genial intonations. What’s the old adage? “You get more with honey than vinegar.”
2.There is no place for your ego in the equation of success. Your perception of your self-worth and your feelings about it only harm the advancement of a project or idea. Think tanks, work places and homes are run by the Samaritan practice of common ownership. Everyone must work as a team to be able to contribute to the “greater good.” Humility is a key component to this. Knowing that your importance is not greater or valued more than other people’s gives way to an improved quality of life for everyone.
3. The buck stops here! Please, for the love of Pete, take responsibility for your actions. Even if you make a mistake, own it and learn from it. We need to fail in order to succeed. That is human development. True leaders do not shift blame to others or hide from the truth. They take it completely; shape into a teachable moment so their employees, team or family members have the ability to learn from it.
4. Listen more,talk less, be present, and work to be better. This formula is so important. Allow people the grace of listening to what they have to offer. While they are communicating with you look at them in the eye with a welcoming expression. When they are done speaking, pause and think before you speak. Build off of what they said and add to the total value of that interaction with your words and positive insight. Every moment we have with each other is an opportunity to be honed and shaped to be better with others. This is the true value and integrity of human interaction.
5. Whatever you do, maintain an even keel! There is nothing more tumultuous than running a small business while raising a family. Life hands us so many stressors and upheavals on a daily basis. I made a conscious choice long ago to not let negative stimuli affect my composure when I am with my children, staff or guests. I am responsible for setting the tone and balance of an enriched and fertile environment for the people in my life. It can be hard to not give into the impulse of reacting emotionally to these stressors. Life has taught me it is much better, in the long run, to maintain grace under pressure.
Life is like a river is so many ways. In my experience, life is always moving, and like a river, you can’t control it’s flow only steer through it. Continued persistence has cut me into a powerful leader in my own life. So, grab your paddle, scan the horizon and be ready for an amazing ride there’s whitewater ahead. Learn from it, lean into it, and what ever you do: Don’t let go of your paddle!