Three life lessons I learn while swimming:
1) It’s good to stay in your own lane
The reason there are flotation ropes that separate the lanes is so you can focus on what you’re doing in your lane while others focus on what they’re doing in theirs.
That’s all well and good when it comes to swimming but how does this translate to life on land? Have you ever veered out of your own life lane and started thinking about how other people ought to be living their lives? Then you have the irresistible temptation to say to them (because, well, you just love them so much and want the best for them. Really you do..) “You know…if you’d just do such and such, you’d be so much happier”.
This is really code for: I’m the one who’d be happier if you did such and such so why don’t you so I can get on with feeling better? (Raise your hand if you’ve ever succumbed to this temptation.)
News flash: I’ve yet to meet one human who likes to be on the receiving end of this oh so tempting approach (unless of course they’ve sought your advice).
Life Lesson #1: When you stay in your own lane, you get to focus on the one person you have control over: YOU. When you pay attention to how YOU want to show up in your life, where you want to swim and how fast or slow you want to go, weirdly, everything else seems to work out. Also weirdly, others tend to enjoy you more. 😉
2) Don’t compare yourself to the swimmers in the other lanes
I catch myself on occasion comparing myself with whomever’s swimming in the lane on either side of me.
Sadly, I rarely compare myself to the slow swimmer who’s struggling to get from one side to the other. Nope. I choose the man or woman who’s been swimming since they were two, has abs of steel, moves through water like a fish and never stops for a break.
Before I know it, I’m wildly kicking and going as fast as I can to beat them to the other side, only to arrive exhausted and choking on water. Then I laugh… because I’ve caught myself, yet again, trying to swim like someone else!
Life lesson #2: Teddy Roosevelt said it best: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Stay focused on who you are and the skills and talents you have. Pay attention to your own rhythm and timing and stop trying to keep pace with others. It’s exhausting and no fun. You’re not meant to be someone else. Just be you.
3) Sharing a lane lets you practice how you want to show up in life
I confess, I used to dread sharing a lane with another swimmer. Either they were a better swimmer than me which would trigger point #2. Or they were less skilled and they’d run into me or splash a lot and make big waves. In both cases, I was focused on them which caused me to change what I was doing.
Life Lesson #3: When you’re around other people, you always get the chance to practice some essential but not so-easy-to-do life skills:
• Staying centered in the midst of being distracted or triggered.
• Focusing on your own timing and style even though it’s different than others.
• Staying open to learning from others, especially if they have more experience than you do.
• Being generous and complimenting others on how well they’re doing, even when (especially when!) you’re not feeling so skilled yourself.
Whether swimming is your thing or it’s something else entirely, what life lessons are you getting to learn these days?
I LOVE hearing from you so click reply and let ‘er rip! I’m all ears. Xo