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What Do Canoeing, Skiing, and Life Have In Common?

By Dan Ohler

Three Top Tips for Finding Mentors

"Turn your shoulders toward where you want to go, our guide yelled just before the canoe turned sideways to the wave, rolled upside down, spilling us into the ice-cold North Saskatchewan River.

"Turn your shoulders downhill, toward where you want to go, the ski instructor yelled just before I caught the edge of my ski on a huge mogul, and tumbled head-over-heel down the steep, snow-covered slope.

"Turn your thoughts and actions toward where you want to go, my mentor suggested as I struggled with how, or if, I was going to proceed with my business.

Turn toward where you want to go.

Ohhhh, those are powerful words. In fact, they describe a natural law of life.

It doesn't make sense to turn away from the direction I am going, and yet, that is exactly what I do at times. The block between my ears pulls me in another direction. My beliefs, perceptions, and fears hold me back.

I know exactly when this is happening to me. It is when I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, when I am afraid to sit down and write another article or chapter of a book, when I resist preparing and practicing for a presentation, when I find busy-work rather than to plan and focus on where I want to go.

Busy-work? Here's what I'm talking about:

- read junk-mail

- long unproductive phone calls to friends

- extended, and I mean r"e"a"l"l"y extended lunch breaks

- wash the dog

- re-arrange paperclips and pens

- search for and send those cute little chain e-mails

- go shopping for nothing in particular.

I feel so busy doing, doing, doing, but not accomplishing anything productive. I hang on to the security of the past, and focus on what has been.

What happens?

I stand still and watch the world zipping by me. I avoid the things that need to be done to move forward personally and professionally. I look at my weaknesses and failures. I mentally beat myself up for not having the courage to move forward. I get grumpy with myself, my family, and I may even start to blame others for the consequences of my choices.

Yuck, yuck, and triple yuck!

Am I alone in this?

You tell me. Has the same thing happened for you?

How can you rescue yourself?

Here is where the natural law comes into play.

On the river, keep your momentum, face downstream, turn your canoe directly into the waves, and use powerful strokes to gracefully slide through the white-water.

On the ski hill, keep your momentum, turn your shoulders downhill, shift your weight on top of your skis, plant your pole, and gracefully float around the moguls.

In life, keep your momentum, know where you are going, keep your thoughts and actions on your desired path, and use your natural strengths and talents to guide you through any challenges.

You may be thinking, "But I don't know how."

One of the greatest lessons I have learned in life is to ask for help and guidance, rather than fumbling along on my own.

I have also learned to be careful who I accept advice from. I carefully choose my guides, coaches, and mentors. They must be people that I know, like, and trust. Having a degree or accreditation does not necessarily mean they are right for me.

Here are three top tips to help you find effective guides, coaches, and mentors.

1. Look for people who are moving forward in a direction that you would like to go. These may be people in a similar or different business. They are positive thinkers, movers "n shakers, and go-getters. They are making positive things happen in their life.

2. Interview the person to discover if they have similar morals and values as you. It is critical that any advice you accept feels right for you.

3. When you are on an unknown path, find someone who has "been there, done that already. They are creating success in areas where you need help. When you need help in marketing, technology, relationships, outdoor pursuits, etc., look for people who excel in those areas. Their experience and advice can save you thousands of dollars, many headaches, and heartaches.

Also be willing to share your expertise with your mentors. You have great knowledge too. A true win-win relationship can be built where both people come away from the experience feeling as if they have received incredible value. Long-term friendships may be a result.

I challenge you to evaluate your life, eliminate the busy-work, find a mentor, and create the momentum that will take you further than you thought possible.

It takes courage to face your fears and challenges, courage to ask for help from your guides, coaches, and mentors, and courage to do what needs to be done to move forward.

Will it be scary at times?

You bet.

Will it be exciting?

Pull your hat down tightly because it's going to be "one *%&# of a ride!!"

And as Zig Ziglar used to say, "I'll see you at the top."

Copyright© 2005

About The Author
Dan Ohler is a relationship, change, and happiness specialist based near Edmonton, AB, Canada. Dan's high-content keynotes, workshops, and comedy presentations help you and your organization excel.

Dan encourages change through insights & humour. Learn to apply the basics of human psychology, the natural laws that produce success. Learn the secrets to create life-long flourishing relationships, and abounding success.

To book Dan for your next conference or event, get FREE articles, or to subscribe to his e-zine, "Soaring Insights, visit


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