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Rowing Toward Success

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Sleek and minimal, a rowing scull gliding across the top of the water is a picture of calm and grace. Even the work of the crew looks peaceful and effortless. If you’re close enough, you can hear the voice of a lone coxswain calling out the cadence. Move in closer and you see the strain on the faces of the rowers. If you’re at the finish line and near the water’s edge, you will hear their gasps of exhaustion coming from the rowers who’ve endured the punishing test. The twisted grimace on their faces tells of the struggle beyond the beauty.

If by some reason you’re drawn into a boat and find yourself wanting to glide across the water on a single scull, you discover something very quickly. Rowing gets complex very quickly. Steering can be a problem with too much pull on one oar over the other. You end up rowing in a circle.

Just getting the oars into the water properly can be a challenge. Begin with arms extended in front of you and knees bent with a sliding seat up under you. Wrists are rolled forward so that the oar blade cuts into the surface of the water. With an effortless perpendicular slicing the legs extend, the seat slides, the wrists roll back, the spine arches as it leans and pulls the oar through the stroke. When the oars reach their full extension they break from the water. Then return the oar with the forward wrist turn, keeping the blade face parallel to and just above the water’s surface ready for the next stroke to begin.

An accomplished rower makes it all look so effortless. The teamwork and the lone voice of the coxswain produces a harmony of gliding grace. The objective though is to win a race.

Achieving that goal takes enormous effort. Rowers don’t give in to the pain. Burning lungs, quivering arms, and leaded knees are all part of a rower's life. Giving in is not an option. Bearing the pain in stoic silence is a badge of honor. Even in the biggest races, notoriety evades the victors. They do it again and again for one reason—honor.

There’s honor in being part of a team. There’s honor in giving maximum effort. For a boat to be successful, each member has to be dedicated to the purpose. Each member has to fit in with the rest of the team to row in harmony in perfect timing and maximum effort. The slightest deviation from the synchronized team effort can cost the team the race. Being committed means producing something greater than the sum of the parts.

There is joy in knowing that by giving it all for the team, the individual gets lifted to greater heights. The boat teaches us that community matters. No one needs to preach it, everyone knows.

Knowing that you’ve given your all for something greater than yourself is honor, and reason enough for any of us to keep on working toward a greater goal.

Photograph used with permission via Flickr.

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