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Posted: September 27, 2012

View from a canoe

Seven pointers for life and business success

Theresa M. Szczurek

There is nothing like a break to give perspective. What plans do you have to unplug and get off the grid, so you can recharge, rewind and refresh?

Thanks to my daughter's Girl Scout troop, I had the opportunity recently to spend five days canoeing in the Buffalo River National Park in Arkansas where the temperature hit 102 degrees with 90 percent humidity. There we were with four 15-year-olds, two leaders, three canoes, nine paddles, two tents, and one large, slowly moving river. Of course, there was also one van to carry our troop and its gear 917 miles from Colorado to Arkansas and back again over two days each way.

Here are Seven Practical Pointers from the River:

1. Go with the Flow. Life is like a river flowing. Slow down. It is so much easier to go downstream, rather then fight the battle to paddle upstream. How often at work do we paddle upstream when we don't have to? Use the Allowing Strategy - let go and go with the flow. (See the book Pursuit of Passionate Purpose for more explanation on all of the success strategies.)

2. Divide and Conquer. We divided the 50 mile trip into five days, approximately 10 miles a day traveling at two miles an hour....Piece by piece, part by part we flowed (and paddled) down the river. Try tackling your next big project using the divide and conquer approach of the Persistence Strategy.

3. Surround with Proper People and Beauty. Besides the participants and leaders, many people helped along the way. One family allowed the troop to use their van. Another family let us use their tents and other river gear. Another troop leader, worked as the trip treasurer. The National Park rangers were extremely helpful in sharing pertinent information to plan for the trip. Our outfitters provided the necessary equipment for a price. Nature provided the proper environment to relax and learn. We used the Connections Strategy - connecting with self, proper people, other beings, and spiritual sources.

4. Prepare and Pack. A big trip like this does not just happen-it takes preparation, planning and packing. We set the goal in September to have a June canoe trip. While we did not know where we would go and exactly how much it would cost, we knew the girls would need to earn money. The girls sold lots of magazines and cookies. It turns out our actual budget was correct within 1 percent of our planned budget. I wish all of my work budgets were so right on. We learned to pack the energizers and unpack the hindrances along the way - we used the Pack Strategy.

5. Be a Firefly. How I love those bugs that fly around at night rhythmically flashing on and off. They remind me of hot, lazy summer evenings in Illinois where I grew up. The message from these lightning bugs: Focus on your strengths. Do what you do best. Try to delegate the rest to others.

6. Skip Rocks. We arrived at the take-out two hours early on the 5th river day. There was NO phone coverage so we could not call the outfitters to pick us up early. So what did we do with time and no electronics for entertainment? We decided to learn something new. Be curious. We learned about the optimal shape for a rock that will skip, how to hold and let go of the rock, and the fun in the contest. There was the thrill on the face of the girls when they successfully skipped a rock two, three, or even seven times.

7. Take a Break. Sing a Song. What do you do when its mid-day, 100+ degrees, and you are tired after paddling only half of the required daily distance? Be flexible on the distance for that day AND jump in the river for a cool, rejuvenating swim. The paddling also goes much faster when you are singing a song together with your partner. Can you find a way to do this, have more fun, at work? Enjoy the journey.

Radish Case Study. An entrepreneurial venture can be 24/7 if you don't set boundaries; it will demand an infinite amount of time and energy. This is a recipe for burnout and failure. The end result of a good break was positive for the company, its team, and me. I learned that Radish survived while I recharged. Try it, you will like it!

Every experience in life brings lessons. What will you learn from your summer vacation? How can you apply these to your pursuits of passionate purpose?

Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Radish Systems, is a serial technology entrepreneur. The story of her last start-up, which sold for more than $40 million in less than six years, is included, along with her strategies for success, in the Amazon-bestseller Pursuit of Passionate Purpose: Success Strategies for a Rewarding Personal and Business Life. www.RadishSystems.com, www.radishsprouts.typepad.com and @TheresaSzczurek on twitter.

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