Getting Outside the Wake


It’s hard to believe that summer has passed us by already and we’re about to get out the pumpkins. This past summer my family was fortunate to visit relatives and friends who happen to live on lakes with boats and, most importantly for the kids, “tubes.”

For those of you uninitiated with “tubing,” it’s the wild practice of pulling a person on a specially designed inner tube tied to a rope behind a speeding motorboat, often two or three at a time. The object of this exercise is to see how long the riders can last before one of them gets flung off and skips across the water. While it sounds crazy, like most kids, mine just love it!

I used to tube myself back in the day. I’ve long since decided that my tubing will now consist of sitting in the back of the boat with a cold beverage watching the kids push the envelope of this seemingly crazy activity.

If you have ever tubed or water-skied, you probably know that if you stay inside the wake of the boat it’s a much safer and smoother ride, because the boat cuts through the waves and literally clears a smooth path in the otherwise choppy water. If you’re just learning, you’re encouraged to stay inside the wake until you develop the skill and muster up the courage to venture “outside the wake.”

Once outside the wake, you’re no longer under the protection of the path cleared by the boat. You are now at the mercy of the unrelenting waves, which can come at you from any direction and swell to all different sizes. Your first adventure outside the wake usually ends badly as you’re flipped and flopped about until your contorted body finally goes crashing into the water.

Over the years I’ve noticed how each of the kids ventures outside the wake in their own way and in their own time.

For example, my older son Dylan is a risk taker, and the first time he ever went tubing, he was outside the wake within the first lap around lake. He loves jumping his tube over the wake and back, testing his skills and pushing himself to the limit. When he first flew off the tube, his response was, “Did you see that sick wipe out? That was AWSOME!” and it only made him want to get back on and push it even further.

My younger son Jake is a bit more conservative and wouldn’t even consider riding on the tube for many years, and when he finally got out there he was just fine staying inside the safety of the wake. After his first wipe out, he was really upset that the boat driver – his Dad – drove so recklessly. It took him several hours to decide to get back out on the tube, and even then only after many assurances from the captain of the boat that he would be much more responsible in manning the vessel.

After three years of tubing, Jake finally decided he was ready to venture outside the wake, though only for a quick moment. After being briefly outside the protective wake, he would push himself back inside its security. This summer, Jake was finally just as comfortable outside of the wake as he has been inside of it, and is starting to become a daredevil in his own right, on par with his older brother.

You may be wondering how my sons’ tubing antics relate to you or your business.

Well, think about it. In leading your teams and building your relationships, some people are more than comfortable pushing the boundaries, taking risks, exploring what is out there and “getting outside the wake.” Many in your organizations live their entire lives outside of conventional norms. That’s okay, right?

There are also many others that prefer to take their time, survey what is actually going on, and learn what is expected of them before they get started. Once they get out there, they prefer to keep it close to the vest, play it safe, err on the conservative side, and “keep inside the wake.” Some will live their entire lives in between the lines or boundaries they have set for themselves. That’s okay, too, right?

A successful organization needs both types. Those who push the envelope, question the status quo, and keep venturing out there into the choppy waters. We also need those who are more realistic, look at the big picture, protect what we have worked so hard to build, keep our businesses on a safe and secure path and help everyone stay on course and between the lines.

Successful leaders learn how to manage both types. Our daredevils like to be challenged and their plates kept full so they don’t become bored and create issues for the organization. On the other hand, it’s just as important to remember that forcing someone out of their comfort zone before they are ready can create just as many challenges and set the team back further as trust will need to be built up again before anything is ventured.

As you and your team members grow, learning to appreciate the styles of one another, and more importantly, learning the value that each person brings to the table, goes a long ways to building and maintaining high performing teams and organizations.

Ask yourself this week:

Which members of your team or in your organization lives outside the wake? Who prefers the security inside the wake? How are you supporting each of them?

Whom have you forced outside of their own comfort zone before they were prepared to do so? What is your plan to remedy the situation?

Which team members can be reigned in just a bit? What discussion will you have with them?

What is your own style, and how is that working for you?

Thoughts for the week:

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.

–Henry Ford

To succeed in life, you need two things; ignorance and confidence. –Mark Twain

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.–Winston Churchill

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plan the seed of either success of failure in the mind of another. –Napoleon Hill

Formal education will make you a living, self-education will make you a fortune. -Jim Rohn

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.

–David Brinkley

Looking forward to our next conversation

2 Comments On “Getting Outside the Wake”

  1. Always look forward to your blog. I use your tips daily in working with my team and encourage them to check you out.
    Thanks
    David

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