Rafting for Consultants: What the River Teaches Us

By Monica Wamsley

Monica joined the Fuel team as its lead editor and language technician in August 2017; she had been with Ideen, LLC prior to this. She specializes in communications and has strong feelings about the serial comma.

I took my family on a raft trip on the San Juan River for spring break. I had no Internet or cell reception for a week. I wore the same pants every day. I was covered in sand and sunscreen.

What does my raft trip have to do with consulting?

Much more than I realized at the time.

Rig to flip.

Don’t wait for “this could be bad, guys” (or worse) to realize crucial things aren’t secure; don’t wait for a crisis to make a mitigation plan. What is the worst? What if the worst happens? Who is responsible for what? It’s much better to have a plan and never need to apply it.

If your oars aren’t in the water, you’re not in control.

A rock, a sandbar, the canyon wall … You don’t want to hit any of it, but, if you panic and do nothing, you undoubtedly will. Always look toward the future, consider your options, and take a stance. Row, row, row your boat, and do your best to get everyone safely down the stream.

If you’re not rowing, you are still important.

Raft trips take teamwork. Planning meals, packing, cooking, setting up and tearing down camps, making sure small people don’t fall in (PFDs for everyone, seriously)… Teamwork and respect are not just themes for cute Pinterest projects. Recognize everyone’s duties, and get help from those in the know.

Phones are not aquatic creatures.

So keep them in the dry box and use them for taking pictures once you’re in camp. Limit time on or even remove email and social-media apps. Lots of places worth going won’t have good reception anyway! Shut the phone down. You might be surprised by how good it feels to unplug.

Get out of the office and onto a river. Your colleagues, clients, and family (and you, most likely) will appreciate that you applied your focus to a fun experience and can bring a refreshed mind and body back to work. Just don’t forget to turn on an out-of-office reply…

This post is part of a series of consulting tips brought to you by Fuel’s own consultants. Want more? Peruse our blog, and follow us on Twitter.

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