The greatest celebrations in life are often the simplest. For example, each time I sit in my kayak without dunking myself upside down is a moment of triumph.

I’ve dunked myself- and have had others dunk me- out of canoes so many times that I just assume I’ll be soaking wet before the journey begins. However, I nearly drown while being dunked because I’m laughing so hard. A recent acquisition of one-person kayak has opened up new opportunities for self-dunking. However, I’m happy to report that after several hours of kayaking on open waters, I’ve yet to dunk myself. Give me time; I’m sure the first Class III water I hit on a river will change that.

Kansas lakes frequently have whitecaps big enough to surf. Kansa means children of the south-wind that blows like a 50,000-watt hair dryer in the summer. It’s easy to find directions in Kansas by looking at the trees; they lean north.

On a particularly windy day, I managed another successful launch-without-dunk and pointed across the lake and directly into the ferocious wind. As I dug my paddle into the water, I began to understand a few similarities to leadership:

Leaning in to adversity works best – facing straight into the wind was the hardest, but produced the greatest results. If you’re anything like me, you prefer an adverse-free life. But what if, in order to reach our long-term goals, we have to go through adversity? If I can approach adversity as something I must go through to accomplish my goals, then I can reframe my narrative in the midst the tension.

Adversity secretly makes me stronger– It would be much easier to float down the river and let the current take me, but paddling into the wind was a better workout. Somehow, knowing that each arduous stroke was making me stronger made the adversity more endurable. If I can reframe difficult times with the understanding that I’m getting stronger then I can approach them more positively.

Take a break- I took a detour from the straight-line to my destination and found the lee-side of the dam quite refreshing. I coasted within spitting distance of a herring gull perched atop a buoy looking at me rather amused. We chatted a bit then I carried on. Finding a place of peace in the midst of adversity is the sacred work of poets, religion, philosophers and psychologists.

Kayaking lakes is getting a bit boring; I’m ready for more adventure. I’ve spotted a fast-moving river I want to try out. Next time I’m near the ocean, I’m in it on a kayak.

I have a sneaking feeling I’ll learn all sorts of new ways to get dunked.

I took the photo on Easter Lake in Iowa. It was NOT windy that day.

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