Great entrepreneurs go for it. Doubts are shoved aside, and they take the plunge with passion. We all know this intuitively, but most of us could use some reinforcement. I found it the other day on San Francisco Bay.
At 7:50 A.M., on Sausalito’s syrupy gray waters, I paddled out into a mind-blowing pelican vortex. This is my passion, stand up paddling, the fastest growing water sport in the world. I’m up high slicing through the water on my 12-foot-plus banana yellow Jimmy Lewis board, the San Francisco skyline at my back. Before me several hundred pelicans swirl about like a tornado of birds. It’s the feeding hour. The hunt. The herring run has begun, and San Francisco Bay boasts one of the richest herring populations in the world. The pelicans are enormous, prehistoric looking birds that appear to have survived the age of the dinosaurs. They’ve got big blond furry heads, throat pouches the size of shopping bags, and sword-like beaks.
There’s nothing like pelicans. The tremendous flocks of little sparkling white and ink black birds that migrate to our bay are skittish. They take off in mass and are gone by the time I arrive. Pelicans don’t budge. They’re hungry. They fly with the pride and arrogance of F16 fighter jets. They swoop toward and around me. There are hundreds of them, and suddenly I am paddling through this cathedral of flying creatures and great flapping wings. There’s a deep thudding drumbeat. And then it happens: From a height of twenty to twenty-five feet they swoop above the dark water, looking for the outline of a swirling, flashing silver ball of herring. The pelicans plunge: One, two, three, four of them! Wings tucked, straight down, beak first like a cliff diver. There’s a big splunk! and a fat splash. It’s raining goddamn pelicans! In ten seconds, twenty of them dive right next to me. And when they come up for air they quickly gulp down the silvery fish before it’s time again, and the thud, thud, thud of their broad wings slowly beats back gravity and once again they are aloft, hunting their next prey.
My pelican vortex consumed two minutes. I was travelling back in time to a prehistoric age, infused with a deep, integral sense of the life of these magnificent creatures. It was an incredible, life altering experience. I’ll never forget the bold, precipitous dive, the straight down fall of these great big, eerie looking birds.
Later on the dock, I realized the value of that moment and decided to inscribe that mental image as an inspirational cue. Every once in a while we all need to make it happen. Take a deep breath and take the plunge. That morning, at the feeding hour on San Francisco Bay, the Pelican Vortex reminded me that there are times when you just have to go for it.