All’s well that ends well… a (possibly too honest) look behind the scenes of a small business and the sometimes nerve wracking adventure of entrepreneurship.
Last night, a series of very strong storms with crazy torrential rains and high winds ripped their way across the marshes between Brunswick and the islands. I happened to be pulling my paddleboard trailer across the Sidney Lanier Bridge in the middle of it all. Why? No particular reason other than needing to get home from Jekyll Island after sharing dinner with my mother at The Wharf.
As I was crossing the bridge in the middle of very heavy rain and strong winds, a strap broke and a paddleboard was torn from the trailer. It flew into the night, right over the side of the bridge and into the dark abyss below.
My mom, who was following in her car behind me, described what she saw as “a really big frisbee flying off the trailer and into the night.” Thankfully no one was hurt. I was just missing a board, and I was really wet from having got out of my truck to investigate.
I was pretty sure the board was lost forever, a sacrifice stolen by the gods of the marsh for the living I make plying their waters.
Well, this morning I decided to go search for my board. And I found it, too! It was in a tree near the edge of the marsh some 60+ feet below the bridge and – this is the truly incredible part – undamaged! Not a scratch, despite being blown over the side of a bridge and landing in (on?) a tree!
First pic shows the board as I initially saw it from the bridge this morning. Each picture after that shows the board from a closer view, and the last two show it was undamaged (I’m still shocked at that part). Crazy, huh?
(The preceding text is re-posted from the @kfpaddle Instagram account; read on to find out what we learned.)
OK, we admit it, the story is bazaar and funny/weird. And people are as likely to laugh at us as they are to laugh at the story.
We’re OK with all that. The Tale Of The Flying Paddleboard holds some important reminders and lessons for us. Here’s what we gleaned from our misadventure:
First, not every “disaster” is as bad as it seems. When my paddleboard was ripped from the trailer and blown over the side of the bridge by gale force winds, I was pretty certain that I had just seen the last of that board. Furthermore, my mind more or less went straight to the “oh no!” stage and the “ouch! that’s gonna hurt the budget” stage. Fortunately, we were very lucky this time around. No one was hurt, the paddleboard was not damaged, and the budget is no worse than it was before we tried playing the SUP version of Mary Poppins.
Second, things could always be worse. In this case, the board could have blown backward off the trailer, straight into my mom’s windshield. It didn’t, but it could have. So, what I thought was a bad situation wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. It’s good to remember that, even when you’re pretty sure you just witnessed the birth of a fiasco, there’s always a worse scenario. Helps put thing in perspective.
Third, paddleboards are odd things. We’ve had boards get dinged and scratched and nearly destroyed by small falls/drops/bumps, so the fact that a board can survive falling more than 60 feet, pushed by gale force winds, and not have a single new scratch on it is …. well, it’s simply amazing and very weird.
Fourth, plan for the unexpected. Paddleboards don’t belong in trees, and they’re also supposed to stay on the trailer when you strap them in place. So, no, we never saw this problem coming. But, thanks to a general preparedness ethic, we were able to deal with situation smoothly and effectively. Remember, when things go sideways (literally, in this case), you have choices. You can choose to react, you can choose to freeze, and you can choose to respond. We responded, rather than reacting, and we were able to 1) recover our board and 2) limit the damage to our budget/business.
So, to sum things up, we have this list:
- Some of the weird things that happen in life are beyond credulity.
- The lens of time often shows us that what looked disastrous in the moment really isn’t so bad. This perspective can help keep us calm.
- On the flip side of the perspective coin is the idea that things could, in fact, be worse. Be grateful that they aren’t.
- Whatever you think was destroyed in a particular situation might be just fine. Although we would have expected the paddleboard to be smashed in this example, it was actually OK.
- It pays to be prepared.
Most entrepreneurs have equally bazaar stories if they’ve been in business for any length of time. Striking out on your own isn’t for the faint of heart, as seen herein, but it can be richly rewarding. So take these episodes for the learning opportunities that they are, make sure you’re paying attention to the lessons hiding beneath your frustration and angst, and then move forward!