Life's lessons learned underwater
After my four swim lessons, I realized there are many aspects about swimming, or trying anything new, that translates into the business world. Here's are five similarities I discovered:
1) Trust- You need to have trust in the pool- whether it's in yourself, in your instructor or in physics. The same is true in your job. You can't do everything by yourself, and the best workers and teams are smart enough to trust others to do what they're supposed to do. A swimming stroke requires many things to come together (breathing, kicking, arm movement, gliding, etc.) and the best businesses have all parts moving smoothly as a unit.
2) Confidence- One of the keys to being a successful swimming is having confidence. While I can't say I'm fully confident in the water or a successful swimmer, I CAN say that I gained a lot more confidence and comfort in the water after these lessons. Same goes for business. Your boss hired you for a number of reasons, and if they are smart, they will let you do what it is they hired you for. Be confident in what you know and how to implement it, even if it's not how it's always been done in the past. I feel very fortunate that my bosses JB and Rod have been 100% true to their word and given me the freedom to do what I know how to do. I'd like to think we've been successful as a result.
3) Resiliency/Risk- I'm not gonna lie to you; there were many times where I thought about not showing up for my swim lesson, or at the very least dreaded going. It's never fun not being good at something, but I believe getting out of your comfort zone will only make you a stronger person in the end, whether we're talking about swim lessons or where you work. You may not succeed at first, but it's worth trying something new. People appreciate effort and they will also notice your courage. It's worth it to take a risk. And as my dad says, "It builds character."
4) A little humor- I know I probably looked a little silly at the pool: an old(er) guy with goggles and a Borat-style men's swimsuit (just kidding, I wore board shorts for my lessons.) But if you can't laugh at yourself, you're taking life too seriously. The same thing applies in the workplace. Sure, you're there to do a job, but that doesn't mean you can enjoy it, talk to your coworkers and have a little fun every now and then. You're there for 40 hours a week or more, might as well like being there.
5) Relax- One of the biggest things I learned from my swimming lessons was the art of relaxation. The more relaxed I was, the better I swam. Putting too much pressure on myself meant I would be too tense. When I'm at work, I also try to relax. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy: If one is too nervous about doing the wrong thing, then inevitably, they will do the wrong thing. Think positive thoughts, take a deep breath, and just go. You have the ability to succeed, you just need to put yourself in a comfortable position to do so.
Overall, I had a great time taking swimming lessons. Thanks to the Northshore YMCA in Bothell, WA for helping me learn. I highly encourage anyone who doesn't know how to swim to take lessons. It's never too late, and if someone like me can learn the basics, I'm confident that you can too. Not only is it a great skill to have, you may take away some valuable work/life lessons of your own in the process.
(Here are Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, in case you missed them)