• Gustav Notander

Rowing Boat or Kayak?

Updated: Aug 11, 2019

At certain times during the year, typically at the end of the year or mid-year, many people evaluate and summarize the period that has past, and plan for the period to come. This typically involves stacking up achievements, comparing outcomes to planned goals, KPI:s etc., and in the near future you’ll probably start a new planning session to set new goals and KPIs.

Then my question to you for your next planning period is: Are you rowing a boat or are you kayaking?

In the rowing boat you sit on your seat facing backwards, you row hard, and you see the surroundings as it passes you by. You glance over your shoulder from time to time to keep your course but your main way of seeing if you are going in the right direction is the fleeting line in the water after your boat and the reference points in the environment that come into view behind the boat as you pass them by.

Photo by Isaak Dury on stocksnap.io

In the kayak you sit facing forwards, close to the water, taking in everything you see, feel, and hear - from the horizon to the tip of your paddle - to adapt your journey to the conditions and to find the best course to reach your destination.

Photo by Patrick Fore on Stocksnap.io
Rowing is setting off the boat in a direction, rowing steadily to get there, but only knowing if you’re on course based what’s behind the boat and the odd glance over your shoulder.
Kayaking is setting off with destination in mind, but a flexible approach to getting there based on how the sea, wind, weather, and your priorities evolve during the journey.

I think we can all translate these two metaphors to how we approach work and life, and intuitively we probably have a preference for one or the other. Personally I have experienced both and I definitely prefer the kayak… both as a metaphor for work and life, and as a way of exploring real shorelines and archipelagos!

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