Pools attract me. They always look so beautiful and refreshing. When no one is in them they look so calm. Swimmers give us a great example to follow in our lives when in them.
Not being a good athlete, swimming is difficult for me. Especially treading water in the deep end. But think back to the Summer Olympics and the swimming competitions we viewed. The swimmers had such a flow about them. They had a rhythm that they repeated over and over. Their bodies broke the calm of the water in front of them.
They had a direction that they never wavered from. Their challenge was to compete against time more than against another person. After their swim, the water became calm again after being filled with motion that provided an uneveness and greater difficulty for the next swimmer if they were right behind them.
We have much to learn from a swimmer. Notice I did not say we should all learn to swim. I know how to swim. I just don’t do it very well. I have trouble swimming in a straight line. When in a pool, I stay in the shallow end. I tire easily and stop repeatedly when trying to get to the other side.
My attempt at swimming mirrors our lives. I tire easily. I go in many directions even though I keep telling myself where I want to end up. Because I don’t swim well, my technique is poor. I swim differently each time that I swim. There is no consistency in the way I swim. No rhythm can be seen when watching me. And I stay away from the deep end because it is too much work to stay afloat and I fear not making it to the other side.
Swimmers, though, have figured it out. They take the calm of the water in front of them and make it churn. Swimmers have figured out repeatable processes that we notice as a rhythm in their swimming that is consistent. Because they are competing against time, they eliminate all distractions by not swimming in many directions but are focused and disciplined to swim in only one direction.
Swimmers have learned to practice daily to build up their stamina, allowing them to continue with a persistence to reach their goal in spite of becoming tired. Their many practice hours are never seen by many. It is only the public swim, their next swim that people talk about that looks so easy and effortless.
Life is no different. There is no movement in our lives when we hide in the calm of our daily routine. We ourselves, must make our lives churn. To create some turbulence through our actions that forces us into new things that we must navigate.
We must drop the romance around being where we want to get to so that we can begin to understand that we must keep practicing, pushing, and trying so that we develop our own endurance and persistence to be able to persevere and not give up until we reach our goal.
The distractions and confusion of our day need to be minimized, as well, so that we can more easily put our energy and focus in one direction. We need repeatable processes in our morning routines, in our organizations, if we want to gain leverage and be able to scale our efforts in a way that will help propel us to our goals.
There is a difference between learning how to swim and becoming a swimmer. In life, once we begin to understand this, becoming more of a swimmer should be our aspiration to give hope and direction as a way to improve our life.
Remember the swimmer the next time you see a pool. For you won’t get far by just learning how to swim.