Perspective, Adventure

The Power of a Little Yes

“And then he said, ‘I think you and I are going to date’ which was ridiculous because we’d just met. But it made me smile…and, well, now we are.”

My friend’s eyes sparkled in the darkened ambiance of a San Francisco bar as she told me about her new boyfriend. Long story shorter, she said “yes” to road tripping from Connecticut to Boston with two high school friends and that night met a guy who is turning into the love of her life. 

Unless you’re a hopeful romantic like me you’re probably thinking, “Yeah but it’s new and they’re excited. It’ll pass.”

Maybe. Or, maybe they live happily ever after?

No matter the outcome of their relationship, what intrigued me most about her story is that she almost didn’t get in the car. Lately I’ve been thinking about what happens in our lives when we say yes. When we choose something unknown or adventure into the unplanned and the things that show up when we show up.

These thoughts were on my mind as I started the 3.5 hour drive back to San Luis Obispo and saw the sign for Highway 92 over to Half Moon Bay. In that moment I made the choice to do something different and headed for the coast.

The next 8 hours were magic!

I got snacks from 2 roadside fruit stands. I helped 3 Russian exchange students get to the beach and accepted their gift of a beer in gratitude for the lift. I played ping-pong with Arthur and Jay; two very bearded, very gay men whose toy poodles “Sugar” and “Baby” watched us from the shade. Along the way I was treated to breathtaking coastal views and delighted in pulling over to explore or to sit it total awe.

Sometimes we think big changes are required to shake things up when the truth is it’s the little choices that stir the pot or routine and serve up something new. Wherever you are, do what you can to make a different choice today. Use a new coffee mug, take an alternate route home, get lunch from a spot you’ve never tired before. 

Challenge yourself to show up differently and see what shows up for you.

Life Lessons, Change

"Can I get some change?"

While waiting for some java at the local coffee shop a guy rushed up to the counter and thrust forward a one-dollar bill muttering, “Can I get some change?”

The barista stepped back from the register as if the guy had pulled a knife, put his hands up and shook his head saying, “Change comes from within, brother.”

The hurried man rolled his eyes and rephrased with, “Fine. Can I get four quarters?”

“That I can do! Here ya go, sir.” the barista said with a smile.

(Well played barista man. Well played!)

Lately my life has undergone a lot of change both personally and professionally. For years I read books, joined coaching groups, sat through webinars and attended conferences in an effort to make the kind of change I was seeking. I had this crazy pervasive feeling that something big was on the horizon and I kept investing in this and that to help bring what felt far off into focus.

One evening this past spring I told my head coach and fellow assistant of my decision to step away from coaching basketball in service of coaching people. This was a tough thing to do because the truth was I loved everything about my life: the people I coached with, our team, the school, the department, the location, my charming little cottage by sea… 

Driving home that night with eyes swollen from the tears that came with sharing the news I remember stopping at a red light. For YEARS I felt like something big was coming, that something was about to change. 

Sitting at that light in a Field of Dreams type moment I suddenly realized that the thing that had to change, was me. I was what I’d been waiting for.

                                     “Change comes from within.”

For the next two weeks I barely slept - partly out of panic about a very uncertain future - mostly because for the first time in a long time I was so damn excited about my life. I had no idea then what it would look like, if it would work, if I could make it, or even how to get started. It was terrifying. And, I felt blissfully alive!

Maybe four quarters is all you need. But if you’re searching for something more, read the quote below and look inside. 

Happy adventuring, change-makers ;)

“Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” Jon Krakauer

Life Lessons, Coaching

The Kayak

Thanks to the generosity of friends, I’m spending August at the Chautauqua Institute in a beautiful house on the lake. I can’t imagine a better setting in which to build a business and lay the foundation for success in my new venture. The grounds are breathtaking and soon after arrival I grabbed a life jacket from the porch and made for the dock to venture out in the homeowner’s double kayak. It was a bit windy, and as such there weren’t many boats on the water. 

“Perfect!”, I thought, “less chance of being run over by a speedboat.”

Having no idea how far it was, I set my sights on the opposite shore which I guesses to be just over a mile away. I wanted to touch it - to say I’d been across the lake. Excited for a new adventure I pushed away from the dock and into an experience. 

It took about 20 minutes to reach the other side and I pulled in next to a small floating dock with a giant bobble head owl meant to keep the seagulls away. As I sat on the dock basking in my achievement I looked at the owl, “Whoo… whoo” I said to myself with a grin. My inner dialogue took a serious turn however when the owl’s coo became elongated into questions like, “Whoo? Who are YOU to be here? Who are you to be coaching coaches? Who made you an expert in communication? Who?” As the conversation with my nodding companion began to get real I decided it was time to move on. Action has always been a great remedy for fear and doubt. 

Looking back across the lake I noticed the whitecaps were clearly present now and the wind had increased.  I aimed the kayak straight across and after a few strokes I noticed that already I’d been pushed further down the shoreline. 


Since it was an open top kayak the present danger wasn’t just in getting back, it was “how do I keep the small waves from inviting themselves on board??” My rowing across a windy lake in a double kayak experience was exactly zero. But, my paddling a surfboard into choppy break experience was high, so I did what I knew and pointed the kayak directly into the waves - and into the wind - and got to work. 

10 minutes later I looked sideways and realized I was only about 300 yards from shore and that it was going to be a long journey home. This was the same moment a twinge of panic set in. I quickened my stroke rate in an effort to cover more ground and minutes later recognized the need to pace myself. I stopped paddling to rest and felt the boat immediately drift south of my landing point. Long story shorter, it took over 3 times as long to get home, and I learned a lot along the way;

When you feel called to take an adventure, go for it! Whether or not you’ve done it before, whether or not you’re fully prepared, whether or not others think it wise or have found success in it. Jump in, start paddling, and see what happens.

Be your own cheerleader. On the way back I repeated “deep-stroke-strong-stroke” in rhythm with my paddle to stay focused on what needed to happen in the moment. 

When you reach a goal, celebrate it! I let out a little “WHOOP!” when I first reached the other side, and before my questions with the owl began I took a second to savor the view. 

- Meet challenges head on to get where you want to go. It will get tough. And the times you’ll want to rest are the exact moments when it’s crucial that you keep going.

Be mindful of how you spend your energy. If you’re gonna paddle, make each stroke count! Deep and strong, as skimming the surface will only take you so far. 

At times there will be doubt. LOTS of doubt! Who are you to do this thing? How dare you? And yet here you are… sometimes in the middle of a lake with the elements working against you. Remember that you have resources (a paddle, a life jacket, a kayak) and you have intangibles (work ethic, positivity, commitment) the combination of which is uniquely your own. Keep showing up. Again, and again, and trust that you already have all you need to make it.

- The path may not be what you imagined - `and it may take a lot longer than you planned - but stay the course. It’s absolutely worth it!

- Finally, when you do get to where you’re going, be grateful. And then in gratitude, set your sights on future adventures and enjoy!