To Thrive In These Not-Quite-Normal Times, Imagine You’re Waterskiing

I was only ten minutes into a Zoom call with a team of smart, motivated, innovative professionals when the finger-pointing, blaming, and criticizing began. Problems were presented. Obstacles were outlined. Faults were floated. The conversation got heated and combative.

What was going on? It didn’t take me long to learn that these usually optimistic, high-energy problem-solvers were miserable due to an unfamiliar challenge: a lull in momentum. A massive project, which had been the primary focus for most of the company for months, had come to a stand-still. Hitting the pause button was necessary and unavoidable. Certainly, no one was to blame.

Still, nerves were frayed and tensions were high. In some ways, I wasn’t surprised. I’ve noticed friction in a lot of conversations lately. Many of us are feeling uncertainty as we start emerging from the pandemic and begin defining (or redefining) what’s next. We’ve still got a-ways to go before we’re operating at full speed. Until then, the mental, emotional, and spiritual lull looming before us can leave us feeling anxious and unmoored.

I’ve got a tip for anyone who might be feeling this way: Imagine you’re waterskiing (bet you weren’t expecting that!). If you’ve ever tried waterskiing, you know what it’s like to hang out in the water when the boat’s not moving. You’re bobbing around like crazy, trying to stay afloat and keep your skis pointed forward. The rope gets tangled or you drop it, and suddenly your butt’s in the air and you’re facing the wrong way. It’s awkward and kind of exhausting.

Right now, we’re all like waterskiers stuck behind the boat. If you’re lucky, a life jacket is keeping your head above water, but that doesn’t mean you’re having much fun or making much headway. You can’t see what’s up ahead. You’ve sucked down some lake water. And you’re starting to get cold.

When the boat finally straightens out and starts picking up speed, you get dragged for a few feet, which is somehow better than endless bobbing. Then, suddenly, the tension returns to the rope. You lunge forward for a moment or two, but now you’ve got something to pull against. You can find your center of balance, adjust to the rhythm of the waves, and carve back and forth across the wake. As long as the boat — and you — keep moving forward, you stay upright and stable. You remember why you love waterskiing: it’s challenging, exhilarating, and fun.

I guess that’s what I hope you’ll keep in mind during this weird post-Covid/pre-normal lull. As we all try to right ourselves and renew our sense of equilibrium and forward momentum, remember there are challenging, exhilarating, and fun days still ahead.

I help leaders and teams find equilibrium and forward momentum together. Email me to find out more! Plus, sign up to get our newest posts about bright culture, leadership, and more.

Candra Canning is the founder of Live Bright Now. She’s been coaching corporate leaders + teams to brighten their performance for 20 years. Candra believes a bright company culture creates bright individuals + bright communities — even a brighter world.

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Candra Canning

Candra Canning is the founder of Live Bright Now. She’s been coaching corporate leaders + teams to brighten their performance for 20 years. Candra believes a br