I’m writing to share a recent experience I had on a kayaking swamp tour (not far from my home in New Orleans) in a tandem kayak with a close friend I’ve known for over a decade.

Before I say more, I would have never thought that Collab and what I’ve learned this past year with my team would impact how I interact in a kayak with one of my closest friends.

So, I’ll continue: the guides warned us that these tandem kayaks are nicknamed “divorce” kayaks and that at the start of our adventure we would be navigating upstream and through cypress and other swamp-loving trees (AKA the hardest part).

We started paddling and soon I realized that communicating “paddle left” to steer your boat to the right was just CONFUSING. And, so here we were. Confident that we would enter and leave the swamps with ease… and in reality, feeling frustrated, unheard, and a little afraid. (I also learned that my friend really does NOT like spiders. I mean REALLY REALLY.) We learned that how we communicate directions are a LOT different and the miscommunications felt more tense in a small kayak stuck between two trees with spiders almost the size of your fist in their webs between the trees above us (no joke).

Paddling in a kayak together is collaboration.

The feelings that came up in this boat were not new for me. I’ve felt this sense of frustration due to miscommunication in many meetings. I’ve felt this sense of wanting to go in the same direction together, but really not knowing how to get on the same page!


And in this small kayak, I started thinking about work (in all honesty, tapping out of my emotions for a second and into my to do list). However, something else came up! I started thinking about what I’ve learned in my work with Round Sky in collaborative operating systems. What are the connections of Collab tools to kayaking to get out of this swamp while not “divorcing”?

I began to communicate my needs directly and slowly piece apart our roles in that little kayak. In the front, your role is to steer and in the back your role is to both follow that leadership and put your muscle into getting you in that direction. In the back, I also had some power to make sharp turns that I could use.

That only helped when I did it in connection with her leadership. So, we started to get a bit more clear about our roles and trusting each other’s leadership.

And then, we expressed and clarified our unmet needs that were holding us back in our paddling. We even did some interpersonal tension clearing and processing together afterward (you know what I mean if you’ve read our Collab Instructional).

I’m curious. Do you relate to this experience?  Whether it’s in a kayak with your loved ones or it’s in a meeting with your co-workers, communication skills are key to continuing healthy relationships and shared leadership.

Well, all of this to say is that I’m one of the newest students to the Level I training this fall. And, this experience has in some ways solidified my decision to be a student in this transformative experience.

It also clarified my belief that when we commit to a process and incorporate our values into that, we will successfully survive upstream currents and spiders together (i.e. those hard meetings) and our work (and personal) relationships have the potential to get a little bit deeper and stronger.

If you’re interested in getting in on this learning and growth (kayaking not included), then sign up here for the Level I training today to get into the next cohort! A limited number of generous scholarships are available, so don’t hesitate: sign up here to secure your spot! Sooner than later! See more info about Level I here.


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