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9 Worthwhile lessons from my River Rafting experience

Career Lessons from River Rafting

Ah, the magic of travel! And, the gush of unplanned vacations, at best! Had the opportunity to go River Rafting at Rishikesh a few days ago, and I was thrilled to say the least! The sight of water – be it an ocean, sea or a mighty river is pure bliss for someone who stays in a land locked city. The sound of waves crashing at the shore is quite a stress buster.  I prefer to admire it from a distance though 🙂

Not knowing swimming and wearing glasses only accentuates the fear. Thankfully rafting did not require me to go underwater (which has been done and dusted, too! Yay!!) Was quite excited to go for it after hearing so many repeated tales of friends’ encounters- the adrenaline pumping experience did full justice to it!

We started at Shivpuri after a brief training (if it can be defined as one!) from our instructor. I remember the look on his face when he asked how many of us were doing it for the first time and all 7 of us raised our hands! And then he burst into laughter saying – “First timers don’t follow any of the trainings anyway, so just enjoy yourself!”

We can deduce great learnings through every experience, and rafting is no exception. Here goes my take.

River rafting teaches worthwhile lessons


1. Teamwork

River Rafting Experience India

While navigating through the rapids it is all the more important that everyone works in unison in order to maintain stability. The raft moved explicitly well when all 7 (and our trainer, the 8th one) paddled in sync. When there was more (or less) effort from one side, it showed. Very rightly said, None of us is as strong as All of Us!

2. Don’t give up!

One moment which is still fresh in my memory is when there was a rapid ahead and our instructor asked us to stand in the raft, with our paddles in front of us and we were supposed to put our body weight onto the paddle. We were so sure that we’ll fall in the river by this tactic as we were giving away our safety ‘foot lock’. The fact that paddles were too tall for us made matters worse. My unstable knee (a ‘proud’ footballer’s injury) didn’t help either.Or so did we assume. I had mentally prepared myself to fall in the river. Surprisingly, all of us stayed within the raft! And, what an experience it was! Just going with the flow, enjoying every turn the rapids threw at us – truly exhilarating!Be brave and believe in yourself – you can definitely conquer the fast rapids or any challenge life throws at you.

3. The road ahead is full of bumps!

As Mr. Kalam put it – A straight line in your ECG means you are not alive! While navigating through your life, there will be highs and there will be lows. There is a dialogue on the similar tangent in the recently released Dhoni’s biography – Knowing when to hit the bouncer for a SIX and when to duck is a skill, which you would eventually master. Enjoy the ride, celebrate your crests and work harder to navigate through your troughs. In the end, you will be through!

4. Go with the flow!

For once, try not to control everything. There were times when we stopped paddling and just went ahead wherever the river current took us. Even while navigating through a rapid. And, it was on the right track! Calm yourself, and the rapid will pass! And, you would miss it once it does, as it is exactly where all the fun lies! Just like some of life’s problems – you simply need to be patient; and they will eventually be solved.

You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is, calm yourself. The storm will pass.

Remember that Class IX mathematics numerical – If you go upstream, you need to put in10X effort as compared to what you need if you go downstream? Going with the flow would be far easier as the momentum will be on your side. Just like SRK says in ‘Love You Zindagi’ – it is absolutely OK to take the easy path sometimes. Definitely not a sin!

5. Have faith in your instructor

Or whichever professional you are working with. Once I headed to a dentist who did not feature very high on my trustworthy list, and he made sure my fears were real. He ended up giving me anaesthesia 3X the normal prescribed limit, still my gums refused to get numb. Sitting in that dreaded dentist chair I was thinking all sort of stories and what if scenarios. It was only after I closed my eyes and <<tried to>> have faith in this professional that things got better and we could move ahead with my tooth extraction. I didn’t visit him again, of course 😉 Trust your instructor/investment professional/ Doctor*. (S)he has that title for a reason. Following our instructor made sure our experience was super awesome!

* Of course, beware of quacks! Go ahead and check all their credentials before taking their advice. Once you are sure, then have complete faith.

6. The art of balance!

Or hedging, as they say in financial jargon. Balance the raft, as you would balance your life, your investments, your work-life-family-fitness-passions, anything and everything! Too much load on one side for quite long makes sure the other side gets weak, and leads to high probability of a fall.

7. Face your fears, heads on!

And then they would cease to be in your dreaded list. Ok, rafting is not that big a fearful activity, but yes, hitting a rock unknowingly is. Or, falling into water is, without a warning. At least for me! J It is one thing to jump into water and another to be thrown in by a large wave which catches you off guard. Less than 2 minutes into rafting, our trainer fell in the raft – and we were all blank! We had imagined this happening to us, but not to him. Knowing that obstacles are a part of the equation would keep you grounded and ‘on your toes’ if the unexpected happens.

This reminds me – one of my friends, Snehitha who rafted a day before us had said that I will be scared while jumping off the raft. Yes, I was! But, did it anyway! Twice J I also remember holding her hand so tightly on my maiden ‘Sea Walk’ that it pained her. Completion of that underwater walk despite my real and imaginary fears gave me a high no alcohol could!

8. Inverse relationship between Success and Comfort Zone

True personal or professional success lies in moving out of your comfort zone, even if it makes you shiver. There are no guarantees that you’ll stay safe and dry, but there is a 100% certainty that nothing changes if you don’t even try.

9. In the end, just have fun!

Imagine…Getting fully splashed with cold water while navigating a tough rapid. The feeling of keeping your balance amidst all the chaos and feeling victorious after realizing that the rapid is over and you are still in the raft! Or, even outside the raft but alive 😉 The feeling of taking a dip in the ice cold water. The feeling of jumping from a cliff. Paddling together as hard as you can. The feeling of ‘You did it!’ The list goes on…..

Even if rafting doesn’t feature in your bucket list, here’s me hoping you have a chance to apply some of these lessons in whatever adventure and rapids you’re facing. All the best, keep rocking! After all, the journey is as important as the destination!
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Manishree Gupta
About Manishree Gupta
A doctor by qualification, financial analyst by choice, sports enthusiast by passion and an egalitarian by heart.

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