Business lessons I learned from canoe trips

I love the summer time; the extra light, the sunshine, the sounds of the kid’s outdoors which makes me reminisce about my childhood.

I was fortunate to be sent on canoe trips during my teens, to the Adirondacks for two week spans. Our guides must have been very experienced to have led us for these two week excursions out in the wilderness. After all we saw bears and snakes.

We would canoe all day with our belongings in the middle of the canoe, two people per canoe and there were about 10 canoes in our group. We canoed in a Vee pattern. We were made to dress as to not get sun burned, also wearing hats so at the end of the day after being so overheated, a dip in the lake never felt so good.

There was always preparation and work to be done. Pitching of tents, scrambling for kindle and finding lumber for the fire. Constant hunger from being in the fresh air. Food never tasted so good although it was nothing more than hot dogs and hamburgers with baked beans. Naturally we baked marshmallows at night around the campfire and sang songs.

We would look up at the starlit sky and point out the Milky Way and other constellations. One of the leaders had brought a telescope so we took turns and studied the sky formations more thoroughly.

I remember the dreaded portages. If you don’t know a portage is it is a land mass stopping you from canoeing on water and you have to traverse on foot until you reach the next water mass. It can be as long as two miles. You have to carry everything on foot and go back and forth several times. The final time you go back is to carry the canoe with your arms stretched overhead. It is awkward, painful and requires a lot of rest stops. The point is you have to have a look at everything, take it apart and put it back together. It is a great way to get rid of clutter and neaten up your carriage.

I bring this up because I liken portages to working “in” your business. Portages occurred about 20% of the time and I have heard that I should be working “in” my business about the same amount of time. When I work in my business I often am doing an analysis of it and taking it apart and putting it back together to see what works and what doesn’t. This is so similar to a portage. Also like a portage, I dread doing it but I can’t go on without doing it. I can’t get to the other side if I don’t do it.

So having the experience of a canoe trip was a great footprint for how life works as an adult. It was much systematized and I recall enjoying being part of a system.

The other thing I recall was I was obedient. I didn’t challenge or ask why. I just did. It was as if I had a business plan mapped out for me and I followed it exclusively. We had to follow instructions as our safety depended upon it.

I wonder what would happen if I followed my business plan so faithfully and didn’t get interrupted by bright shiny objects and a variety of other things that pull my attention away. I am sure you know what I am talking about…facebook, emails, phone calls etc.

Ahh…. the lessons of a 16 year old.


© 2012 Sarah Wood

 About the Author: 

Sarah Wood, also known as the “Magic Pen,” and author of “How to turn a No or a Maybe into a Yes” and producer of “Magnetic Phrases,” is a copy enhancer/ writer who transforms copy on your website into sexy and sizzling from boring and blah. For a list of testimonials go to her website and check out her long list of happy customers at . She is also a marketing strategist at overcoming objections for coaches, mentors, real estate agents and entrepreneurs. In her spare time, she spoils her three cats and one dog and she is an avid belly dancer in the ancient folkloric genre, you would be most familiar with.


2 Responses to “Business lessons I learned from canoe trips”
  1. Shelley says:

    Bright shiny objects are a big problem to me too. I think we have all become afflicted with ADHD because there is SO much information in front of us! I’ll start working on a simple project and before you know it, I have 17 “windows” open and can’t remember what I was doing. Being the daughter of a parent who suffered from dementia, that is VERY disturbing.

    The only thing that works for me is a timer and the rule that I may not have more than 4 windows open at a time. 🙂


    • Sarah says:

      What a great rule Shelley, I am going to borrow it from you and get out my timer ( why haven’t I been using it all along-when i know how well it works for me) I preach it in my organizing consultation. LOL I know i get so many windows opening that my computer just stops working, and i have to start shutting everything down. What works well is a to do list and a black book which i put all of my ideas into, so for instance, if I want to visit another website rather than visiting it i will write down the URL in the black book and go back to it later. I am reminding myself of this as I talk to you.

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