Sink or swim

lakeswimSwimming in a lake is completely different than a pool. 70 laps in the pool was no walk in the park, but at least I could see the bottom, stand if I wanted or take a brief rest when I got to each side. And the 5 foot deep, still water was fairly easy to stroke through.

In contrast, the lake is opaque, and deep, and cold, and windy. I eventually found the equivalent of a walk break in running: I turn over and do elementary backstroke until I get my breathing back on track. But I’m still moving and there’s no place to truly rest.

This reminds me of the way some parents teach their kids to swim. Some equip them with PowerPuff arm floaties, sunscreen and a kickboard, and then gently talk them into the shallow end. Some will just throw the kid into the deep end and watch them swim back to the side. One approach takes longer and one is more traumatic, but they are both motivational and effective in their own way.

Jumping in the lake is throwing myself into the deep end. What can I do when I get tired? If my only other option is to sink, I just keep going.

Now for the obvious analogy. When you are throwing yourself into a new challenge in your life, do you typically choose the pool or the lake? I’m not just talking about athletic challenges. Think about immersing yourself in work challenges, fundraising, education… are you dipping your toe in, or really going for it?

If you give yourself a side to hold on to in the pool, you will occasionally hold on to it. You may still get to your goal, but it will take longer. If you choose the lake, you will build strength faster and learn a lot about what you are really capable of.

Maybe try NOT playing it safe next time and see what happens. Go jump in a lake.

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7 Comments on “Sink or swim”

  1. Jeff G Says:

    Swim Dave Swim
    Bike Dave Bike
    Run Dave Run
    Go Dave Go!!

    Keep it up Bro!!

  2. Connie Boeglin Martin Says:

    It doesn’t matter what you write or when you write it, David. It’s always motivating, inspiring, and relevant to me in some way. THANK YOU!


  3. Always a pleasure to read your blogs Dave!


  4. Sometimes it is NOT just the option of merely a pool or a lake, but it is something greater, like the ocean. And the ocean has high tide and low tide. Sometimes there is not an option to sink or swim; Let’s not forget that sometimes life gives you the option of treading water or floating. And we must not forget that this IS for purpose just as much as sinking or swimming. We are often given alternative options. In the treading, we learn about endurance and it is here we are given the chance to test our faith and spirituality. Remember that God gives us tests to see what we are made of. Sinking or Swimming is ‘doing’…. treading water and floating is BEING and sometimes it is in the BEING we get a chance to either completely TRUST CONVICTION AND FAITH. Floating is trusting. Treading water is believing. These are spiritual exercises which are the next level up….

    We can swim all we want to, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we will have all the answers, fix all the problems, solve all the issues. Sure, it seems like a very black or white answer/solution….but life is not always about this. There are the grey situations which affect most of the population.

    Think of it like waiting for a kidney – so you can get the transplant.
    The kidney patient could pro-actively be on a million lists and swim toward a million solutions – but it does not mean that person is getting a kidney tomorrow.

    A child can be loving and giving and get straight A’s and be the best child it can be – but it doesn’t mean it will get adopted or find a foster family – by swimming and doing.

    Sometimes it is in the ‘waiting’ (treading/floating) – we become even stronger than swimmers.

    It is in the treading and floating we are shown that we must take the necessary time to reflect before taking action – to thoughtfully and mindfully do the right thing even through adversity, obstacles, challenges… and staying the course, our faith and trust are delivered based on patience, even if the will is to always swim.

  5. Pam R Says:

    This is very timely for me. I am in the midst of having to make a decision about whether to take on a new role within the organization I work for. It would be more challenging, but with new responsibilities, different people, and at a different location. So far, I am clinging to the side of the pool for dear life!

    • davidgoad Says:

      It’s never easy, Pam… but think about all the times you took those leaps in the past and how well you adjusted and succeeded afterwards. Trust in your skill, and your will, to succeed 🙂


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