Row, Row, Row Your Boat

I still remember the first (and last) time I ever went whitewater rafting like it was just yesterday. To be fair, I’m not sure if this really qualified as whitewater rafting in the technical sense, but there was an inflatable raft, there were some river rapids, and we were indeed paddling our hearts out. During the safety briefing, they told us that if we remember only one thing, it’s that if you fall overboard, make sure you hold on to your oar. The T-shaped top can be used to “hook” onto the top of someone else’s oar, effectively doubling your reach for getting back on the raft.

As chaos theory or Murphy’s Law would necessarily dictate, of course I fell overboard. And you can probably guess what was the first thing I did as I fell out of the raft: I literally threw my oar several feet in the air. I have no idea what I was thinking, which was only made worse by the fact that I don’t know how to swim. I literally feared for my life, but I’m alive here today to tell the tale. So, that’s something. But, what does any of this have to do with blogging and making a living on the Internet?

I’m the Captain Now

You can think about your journey in online business much like how you’d think about getting in a boat and paddling down a river. In circumstances like that whitewater rafting adventure, I couldn’t really choose what boat (or raft) we got, what route we took, or who else would be paddling with me. What I did understand was the basic goal: get from point A to point B.

When you expand the lens to look at the bigger picture, you start to see all the other factors and variations that can come into play. You’ve got your own boat, and then you notice that some boats are better (or worse) designed. Maybe some are in better condition or they come with better oars. When you’re trying to blog professionally, by comparison, you’ve got to work with the boat that you’ve got.

That could refer to finances, resources, or expertise. The other people in the boat with you? Those are your friends, colleagues, contacts and collaborators. I’ve been able to paddle this river a bit better because I’ve known John all these years. It’s a lot harder when you have fewer people in your squad, or if the people in the boat with you are just as weak and inexperienced as you might be.

Control What You Can

So many things are outside of your control, at least directly. You can’t choose who your parents are or where you were born. The privilege that you have or lack is through no merit or fault of your own. It’s true that some people just start off with better tools and more help. It’s also true that you’ve just got to work with what you’ve got.

In this way, it’s much more fruitful to focus on what you can control. It might’ve been a good idea if I had learned how to swim, for example, so I wouldn’t have been so panicked in that situation. That’s something I could have controlled. Maybe you have a preference for paddling to the right or the left of your raft or boat. You can choose that too.

Some people might have an easier way making their way down the river, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fight tooth and nail to get down there too. And you can choose that fighting to go upstream might not be worth the effort. Maybe that’s something you want to work toward down the road.

Stroke, Stroke, Stroke…

Do you know what else you can control? Your work ethic and dedication.

Sure, it’s easier if you just get into the boat with a bunch of big, burly men who can do all the hard work for you, but what will you have gained or learned from the experience? Success, particularly sustainable and sustained success, is not something to be achieved overnight. It’s about building up that experience (and that muscle) to know how best to direct your efforts and get you down that river in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

And it’s about finding the right teammates who not only get along with you, but also complement your set of skills and traits. Maybe you’re great with big ideas, but horrid with typos. Work with a proofreader. Maybe you’re great with being on camera but not so great with putting the videos together. Work with a video editor. You can all get further, faster.

Go With the Flow?

I’d never been whitewater rafting before. I didn’t know how to swim. I was terrified and my nerves likely got the best of me. Ironically, I fell out of the raft in the moment when I felt the most confident. That teaches us that we should always be vigilant. But, there’s another lesson to be learned here.

There are a lot of factors that will always be outside of your control. Weather conditions don’t always align with forecasts. The river could suddenly get much choppier and chaotic. The rental boat might not be quite what you expected. But, if you know what you can control and you’ve gained a certain comfort level with how you can best manage with situations like these, you can also learn to relax and just enjoy the ride.

With online business, that might mean getting into a groove with the work you do or establish reliable passive income streams. It’s about having the systems in place so that even if you fall out of the raft, you’ll remember to hold on to your oar.