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The River Man: A demonstration of how coaching works.



I recently went on an outdoor adventure where I had a life experience that beautifully shows how coaching works. Let me tell you the story:


“When I met this foreigner, the ‘River man,’ at the counter of my favorite lunch place, a flood of negative words came out of his mouth, cursing the world around him.


Here I was, at the foothills of the Himalayas, running away as far as I could from a world obsessed with Covid-madness, to finally meet the man who masters every single rapid of the most holy, inaccessible, and dangerous rivers on earth. This guy is blessed with strength. Treacherous rapids six meters in height or surging currents testing the limits of strength; nothing is too challenging for him. He owns the water flows – they obey him.


Starting at 17 years old, his first expedition involved a 2-month self-contained journey kayaking into the most secluded places on earth. Meeting indigenous people along the way, he was inspired by their way of life and decided to follow in their footsteps. For five years, he lived in a tipi – completely one with nature. He would take care of the elderly indigenous people. He is the personification of Kevin Costner himself in “Dancing with Wolves,” long before the movie was even conceptualized. A veteran of running rapids now, he holds multiple world records in canoeing and rafting.


I was looking forward to hearing his stories about willpower, peace of mind, an extremely strong mindset, oneness with nature, roaring wilderness, and struggles of raw survival. I was hungry to learn about the connections with nature that our world has become so poor of. I was yearning to go with him on an expedition. Take me along – doesn’t matter how tough it is – and teach me everything about survival and the beauty of nature.


He stood in front of me, paying his bill while his curses took over the restaurant: “For 45 years, I have been going on my rivers, and now some politicians think they can stop me. How can they take this away from me?” He turned towards me - his eyes were filled with suppressed tears. His body was strong. His mind was torn. Dark clouds of Covid worry polluted his thoughts and his focus. Covid had affected him, slipping in from the back door. If not making him ill physically, it wore him down mentally. He was eaten from the inside. I could feel his crushing pain.


We started having breakfast together. The trust between us grew. I would listen to his worries, but I would devour his stories of dangerous trips and survival techniques, moments of total surrender, or surprising encounters with soulmates whom he was meant to meet on his path. In all these tales, memories would flow freely. In reliving these moments, the sparkle would return in his eyes. Later, he told me how telling them was healing him and reminding him of his purpose in life.


As I was begging him to teach me nature, we decided to go trekking to an isolated ‘town’ (just a bunch of houses leaning against the mountain top). I was ecstatic. I was breathing in nature as only a few people do: I could finally see a clear blue sky again. I smelled the freshly plowed soil, touched the passing trees, greeted the flowers on our way, and stood in awe at every viewpoint… all whilst he continued talking about Covid and how government regulations were preventing him from going on his rivers. Halfway through the steep climb, when sweat was running down our backs, he stopped. With determination and firm surrender, he pinned his trekking pole in the ground, turned around, and said: “I am stuck. My mind is only thinking about this. I don’t know how to shift my focus. I am paralyzed and feel the impact on my body. In the last one and a half years, something is not aligned anymore. Help me get it back.”


We were in the middle of rough nature, almost at the top of the mountain. He knew these trekking trails by heart. My intuition told me this was the right place to connect him back with his authentic self: he felt at ease here. He knew I could help him, and he asked for help.


Together, we sat down. We went over his thought process and his goals. I acknowledged them. He explained his views of the world. I was curious. He dove deeper into his values. I listened. He was open to exploring his beliefs and how they were supporting him – or not – in what he wanted to achieve. I reflected back. He replayed how he overcame previous life challenges. I observed. We were connected in silence. I asked about his tears - his body cringed. I acknowledged and validated. He had been paralyzed to take action. His awareness grew: He started realizing that not making a decision and living with these lingering thoughts for more than a year had been devastating to his mind, body, and happiness. More harmful even than the consequences of making a decision would have been. He was processing. I invited him to list down his options and recognized his progress. It was time to move on.


As we continued our climb, he showed me the part of the massive river, now reduced to a tiny electric blue line down in the valley, where the water flows in the opposite direction for about 30 km. This truly is a holy place.


After 2 days, he called me to join him for breakfast. Our talks had given him clarity of mind, and he had come to a decision. As he asked, we did the paperwork together. By the end of the day, we picked up the final document that gave him his freedom back. He was taking it in while we were walking home. I noticed how gradually his pace changed: it was becoming lighter and more energetic. His eyes started to twinkle. You could sense the stress leaving his body. He looked at the paper again. What a relief. He started joking, thinking about all his future plans. Then he laughed it out: this 1 piece of paper would get him his freedom back and allow him to be back on his rivers. 1 piece of paper. In hindsight, he was amazed at himself at how stuck he had been, and how procrastinating and indecisiveness had prevented him from reaching his goals. But most of all, how easy the solution had been compared to the thoughts he initially had when visualizing taking this hurdle.”


How do you perceive your world? How well do those perceptions serve your well-being? Which vibe do you send out to others around you on a daily basis? What do you allow your mind to focus on? And how do you shift when you’re ready?



We all get stuck sometimes in a vicious circle that shifts our focus away from our passion, and often, we don’t even realize what prevents us from moving forward. Through thought-provoking questions, in a safe and non-judgmental environment, I will invite you to walk the path to come to a decision that is 100% yours so you can be entirely at peace with the consequences. As a professional coach, I invite you to take a seat at my table. Reaching out is the first step to success and achieving your aspirations.


I am a lifestyle expat, a highly conscious female business leader, and a professional ICF-certified coach who invites you to overcome any challenges you encounter, in a way that aligns with your core values.



Please feel free to get in touch.


Special thanks to the ‘River Man.’


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Picture & Text Copyrights: ©2023 This is my Table™

Copyright laws protect all content in this article. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of any material without prior written permission from Sarah Debusscher (author) is strictly prohibited and punishable under the respective laws.

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