Today, I can tell you a story about frustration and fun. During the summer, I was busy with my remodel and busy with work, and–well–just busy in general. I didn’t feel like I’d had a summer at all. I just wanted to have at least one day that felt like summer. I decided to plan a day on the river.
I’d originally been planning a bonfire at the coast–except I couldn’t find any beach that would let me have a fire–for fun. (I’ve now organized a camp out at Bodega Bay Dunes campground in September because they have fire pits and that’s the most I could do in between organizing my Lithuanian contractors–but I digress).
It turned out that Sunday, I’d finally organized a day out kayaking on the Russian River with a few friends. I went with a local river company in Healdsburg: Soar Inflatables (www.soar1.com). You can see in their pictures that their kayaks are two and three person rubber rafts. Not exactly what I’m used to, but I thought it would be fun just to paddle and float big rubber bumper boats down the river for a day.
There were six of us total: Quebec-Martin, Cindy, Marta, Pasquale, Humberto, and me. We divided up into the boats exactly like that. Martin and Cindy were relatively experienced paddlers. Pasquale and Marta were beginners. Humberto was a beginner and I was–stubborn.
The guide said: steering in the back and power in the front. So I took the back seat–because it doesn’t matter how much experience I have, I certainly don’t have the upper body of my friend Humberto. The other two guys in the other two boats took the back seats. We went along for a while, and I thought we were doing well. EXCEPT…Humberto (my boat partner) didn’t want to be “the guy in the front”. He wanted to be the guy and paddle the girl along the river…whatever–sigh.
We did eventually trade places (because that’s fair–don’t you think?). I took the front and he took the back. We struggled for a bit and I became frustrated at his inexperienced steering (zig zag back and forth, back and forth across the river). Also, I became frustrated at the amount of his effort he was making. He was taking three strokes for my one. I’m more than positive that he was frustrated at me too–but he was more gracious than I was about it all.
However, I remembered something Mike Hatfield (currently of cyanoptics.com) once told me about leadership: Have a plan. Communicate the plan. Let people make their own decisions on how to get there–because basically, if people have good information, they make good decisions. I eventually just let Humberto paddle. We would decide on the path down the river and I just let him figure out how. We got to where we needed to go with less frustration and more fun.
My lesson learned is just because I might know how, doesn’t mean I know best. And–effectively communicate the plan. We’ll get there eventually–with less frustration and more fun!