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Passion In Action: Finding freedom on the water

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Laura Gamble

Laura Gamble
Regional President, Greater Maryland PNC Bank

I am a rower and if you know any of us, you know that many people consider us to be a little crazy. We get up before the sun rises and put in an hour or more of intense physical exercise before most people have had their coffee. Then we go to work and do our jobs as doctors, engineers, teachers, architects, scientists and even bank presidents.

There are very few things that come between me and my time on the water. Literally, it is the first thing I do in the morning, four days a week, from the end of March until the middle of November. Winter is a desolate time in the life of a rower in Maryland, you are just counting the days until you can get back in a boat.

But when you are in that boat, there is nothing quite like it – the quiet intensity of the effort to get each stroke in time with your cremates, the feeling of the boat gliding unimpeded – it is the closest I have ever come to the term ‘flow’ or ‘being in the zone.’ It also takes a very special kind of teamwork where if you are rowing with others, you must sync your efforts completely, or you won’t get anywhere. There is nothing quite as frustrating as a crew who does not row well together. Usually you can make improvements and make progress, occasionally you can’t. You just have to put the boat away, shake it off and come back to try again the next time. In so many ways, I find rowing to be allegorical to business and life in general.

Another of the things rowing has taught me, is to be in the moment. You can only focus on one stroke at a time, then it is done and you can only focus on the next one. You also can’t bring things into the boat with you. There isn’t much space, mentally or physically, for things that aren’t rowing related so you have to ‘leave it on the dock’ and pick it back up when you are done with your row.

The pandemic has made rowing harder, just like everything else. We couldn’t row together throughout 2020 and all our competitions were canceled. To keep everyone motivated, we have been rowing on the ergometer (rowing machines) together via Zoom and have had many Zoom brunches to keep in touch. I cannot wait until we can get back in an 8+ (eight-person boat with a coxswain) again and row to the Inner Harbor on a clear Saturday morning!

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Women Who Lead This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Women Who Lead: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Women Who Lead (formerly Path to Excellence) magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Women Who Lead.

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