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If you have followed recent posts, blogs and videos, you may have noticed the theme of trying new ventures. Some of you may be aware of my background and the ventures taken from an adventure perspective, personal and/or professional perspective. I wanted to share a recent venture with thoughts and suggestions when you want to experience something new. This past weekend tried something for the first time, a stand up paddle (SUP) board race.

My first time on a paddle board was about 5 years ago. Since that time, have purchased a couple of different styles of boards, with have improving along the way.

First time on a paddle board. Fell a microsecond after photo was taken.

The race plan idea emerged when I pulled into the beach parking lot on a Tuesday. A passerby asked about my board and if I was entered into the race scheduled for Saturday. I told her no, but would look into it. After arriving home, I checked out the race and decided to enter. There were only four days to prepare, so due to my schedule and the weather, put in a quick 35 minutes of some stroke and turn “practice”, based on a You Tube video.

On the drive to the race was thinking, “this will be an embarrassing outing”. That internal talk said, “what were you thinking” and “I know my paddle skills are likely not strong enough to win, so why even try”?

If you are considering doing something new and/or out of your comfort zone, here are a few tips on possible approaches to consider for your venture.

Step 1 – Go for it. The first step is usually the hardest, but can sometimes be the simplest. Years ago I’d been participating in marathons and various other races. I was speaking to a friend and they expressed a desire to run and asked for suggestions. The response seemed smart alecky, but it was true, “put on sports shoes and run”. Making that first running step was the hardest move. For the SUP race, the first step was registering. Go ahead, take that first step to your venture, the next steps will flow from there.

Step 2 – What’s the purpose of you trying this new something? There can be many reasons,  this may be the time to think about your objective and set expectations. In this case, the purpose was to try something new in order to gauge future interest. It was also a chance to step out of my comfort zone.

Step 3 – Set up your goals or measurements. Notice, it is “your” goals and measurements, not others’ measurements. Especially when doing something for the first time, set goals or measurements which are stretch goals but reachable.

For this first race, goals were straightforward:  finish race: do my best;  have a good time (it was a beautiful day, after all): understand how the race work; and meet new people. The first three points are easily understood. The third goal was to better understand the rules, written and unwritten, which helps to better understand the culture and flow of the race. Attention was paid to race strategies, pacing, and how the organizers set the race up. This helped to alleviate anxiety and stress by providing distractions from the internal talk which creeps in occasionally on the new venture. This was very apparent at the starting staging area, the other paddlers were discussing all the other races they had competed and the course itself. My internal chatter started up: “why am I here”, “I don’t deserve to be here”, “I could be sleeping in right now”, or “Whoa, I am going to be so embarrassed when I fall off this board and finish last”. Distract yourself to quiet that internal negative talker.

Step 4 – Make changes/adjustments along the way. As this progressed, I made up my own race within the race. This particular race has several classes compete at the same time, meaning there are different age groups and different equipment. Therefore, your division competitors are not readily apparent. It was not long into the race when it was very apparent I would not finish in the first slots. The people on faster boards and younger age groups were far ahead. At this point, instead of getting frustrated and listening to that internal talk, I brought the focus back on the objectives set pre-race. Additionally, made a new challenge to stay close to the people in front of me with the goal of trying to pass them as they fatigued later in the race. This on-the-fly adjustment goal fueled my internal motivation to push harder, despite the leaders departing from the view.

In the end, I was able to pass a couple of paddlers in the final race segment. That single adjustment became one of my proudest moments of the race. Despite bad paddle form, being unprepared, and exhausted I was able to push through, while allowing the positive inner talk to overpower the negative inner talk.

Enjoying the unexpected stand on the podium.

In some cases, if you try your best and put forth good effort a nugget will appear. Was fortunate enough to place third in my division. It was not one of the initial goals, but by setting those mini goals and working to beat just one more paddler was fortunate to snag a spot on the podium.

Go ahead, give something new a try…….Find Your Venture.

Gary Gresham

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