How to build your community

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Are you challenged when it comes to building your paddling community?

I’m headed up to paddle and teach on the Ottawa river tomorrow, and it’s reminding me of a lesson I learned in building community and connection when I was here last year.

I pulled into the eddy to surf Garb, one of my favorite waves on the Ottawa, and found myself in the company of several current and former World Champions.

At first I was a little intimidated even though I’ve paddled with almost all of them before, and am a former Worlds medalist myself.

The nerves quickly dissipated as we greeted, hugged and cheered each other on.

I was having a hard time catching the wave because I was stuck in an old strategy that wasn’t effective. It felt vulnerable to ask for advice (my ego gets in the way sometimes). As soon as I swallowed my pride and asked, Abby and Emily were happy to offer helpful tips that helped me catch the wave consistently. Their tips were game changing.

Their confidence and skill was inspiring, and helped to boost my confidence. The following day I had the best rides I’d ever had on Garb.

That’s the power of community.

BEING in community can transform your life, just like being in that eddy transformed mine.

What we get wrong about building community

Here’s the deal though – I didn’t magically appear in that eddy. I took action to be there. And once I was there, I participated fully in the experience.

It was uncomfortable, intimidating and vulnerable for me at first, and it would have been easy for me to shrink, stay quiet and not interact or communicate. I could have stayed quietly in that eddy and not experienced the inspo.

I think that’s what a lot of us get wrong about building community. We think it should be easy and comfortable. The reality is that it takes courage to build community. The courage to reach out, the courage to be known and the courage to be vulnerable.

If you want to build community, find your courage to put yourself in eddy, open up when you’re there – ask questions, start conversations, and open yourself up to the connection and inspiration.

And, don’t forget to have fun!

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