A Kayak, a Cave & a Crash: What My Latest Adventure Taught Me About Business

So when I decided to attend a conference for entrepreneurs in San Diego last month, I knew immediately that I’d turn that two day event into a two-week experience.

Because in addition to stopping off in Denver to visit good friends, and seeing San Diego for the conference, I wanted to see what else was there.

So after the conference, I drove up the road for a few days in La Jolla (“La HOYa”), California. Tucked in along the cliff tops of the California coast, it was a surprising place. 

For one thing, it was there that I saw my first ever car dealerships for Maserati, Lamborghini, and Rolls Royce – all within a block of each other. (!)

For another, it was there that I realized that – although I’m a mountain girl at heart – I actually do enjoy a good beach; especially if it’s the right beach, with cliff tops, rock, wind and big water.

Oh – and sea lions. :)

So of course I signed up to go sea kayaking along those cliffs. After my first such experience in Ireland last year, I knew I could do it. And I knew it would be dramatic.

I just didn’t know how dramatic.

The photo above is one I took from inside a cave called “The Clam” off the coast of La Jolla. The name fits, because the opening felt even more narrow than this shows. I remember being careful as I went through, trying not to let the waves shove me against rough walls barely a foot to each side.

To get inside, my guide jumped OUT of her boat and swam, with one hand on the front of my kayak and another on the back of the kayak in front of me. She wouldn’t let us paddle through on our own, but insisted on physically guiding our boats through the opening. 

(All I could think of was the heart attack her mother would have if she could see what her summer job entailed. But I digress.)

So that was a little tricky. But once we were inside, something spectacular was waiting.

This.

And yes – it was every bit as dramatic as it looks.

But what you can’t see, is that just off to the left of that photo, piled up on a rock shelf about 15 feet to my left, was a family of sea lions.

Sea lions!

And oh the sound they made, echoing around that chamber. I can’t even begin to describe it for you.

But what in the world, you ask, does any of this have to do with business?

A lot of things.

Here are a few of my takeaways, in no particular order.

1. You, too, have to be careful not to get banged up. I had a sturdy paddle and a clear path, but still had to contend with rough water. If you’re moving into new territory in your business – offering a new service or a new product for example – you may encounter rough water too. Make sure you’ve done your due diligence before launching on your path.

2. It helps if you have some extra padding. I had a life jacket and a helmet. You may need some extra money in savings or a Plan B (or C) in case something doesn’t quite work the first time out.

3. There’s treasure on the other side of fear. Those sea lions sounded like sea monsters from outside. Inside, they were playful, funny and fascinating. Whatever you’re facing in your business, there’s something equally delightful on the other side. I’m sure of it.

4. It helps if you have the right guide. In my case, our guide was really helpful at navigating that opening. In yours, you may need a financial advisor, a copywriter, a VA, or a coach.

Oh – I didn’t tell you about the crash, did I?

Yeah – that happened back towards shore, as we rode the waves in for what I was sure would be an easy-peasy oh-so-fun landing.

I was wrong about that. :)

Turns out to be a little trickier than it looked, and for the first time ever I was totally dumped. Rolled and tossed out of my boat like a rubber duck in the bathtub. And then, even in shallow water, I had to have help just to stand UP.

It was all actually pretty funny.

And that led me to the best lesson of all. 

5. Running a business is harder than it looks. And no matter how smart, experienced, talented, clear headed or well prepared you are, the right wave can still knock you off your perch.  So it pays to be careful. It pays not to underestimate what you’ll have to do.

And it pays to have someone there to help you get back up when you need it.


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