When you think about business lessons, wild swimming is probably the last place you’d think to draw comparisons from. So, what can a wild swimming experience teach us about business?
I recently went wild swimming for the first time – what an experience! It got me thinking about how I processed the thoughts and fears about swimming in a river…and that led me to draw some comparisons to business.
Here are the business lessons and comparisons…
Know exactly what it is you want to do
My aim was clear; I knew that I wanted to swim outside in the open air, on a warm day, with my children and my husband, by the end of the summer holidays. I was specific about my goal, just like we need to be specific about our goals in business. You can use the S.M.A.R.T. goal model setting to help you (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound).
Compromise where needed
There were some things I had no control over such as the weather and the current, but there were lots of things that I could control. Sea swimming is something I would like to do, however I knew that because of my fear of water, specifically drowning, I realised that the sea would have felt more ‘risky’ as a beginner, so I decided to compromise and swim in a slow flowing river, with lots of calm pools. This is something we can think about in business, especially when it comes to comfort zones. It reminded me that we can start small, or choose the path of least resistance to begin with, and that’s OK.
What exactly did I need to go wild swimming? Well, I needed something on my feet – there was no way I could bear the thought of killing innocent fish by stepping on them! Not to mention reeds and the sludge…so I got myself some wet shoes. I also needed swimwear, a T-shirt, a towel, my water bottle, my family at my side and a little bit of mindset work to overcome self-doubt. This counts for any goal we set in business – to make your goal realistic, what do you need? Do you need tools and resources? People to support you?
Despite my vision of my walking ethereally into the water like some kind of calm goddess, there was no way I was going to just walk straight in and start swimming. I had to take it slowly. I had to get used to this new (cold) environment. In business I feel there’s often so much pressure to speed up and keep a fast pace, but sometimes all we really need to do is s-l-o-w things down a little. When you are doing something new for the first time, take it steady and be gentle with yourself…get used to it.
Take the leap
At some point at my being in the water, I just had to take the leap. There was no getting away from it, the change was going to be uncomfortable and scary. But I just had to take the leap; I just had to do the thing. And sometimes that’s what we need to do in business too; to quote Eleanor Roosevelt:
We can skirt around, procrastinate, make excuses, put things off… but when it comes down to it, to grow we have to take lots of little leaps. And once I was in and swimming, it was Oh so wonderful. I felt euphoric. I could see dragonflies, gnarly tree roots and leaves sailing by. It was an experience I knew I wanted to repeat. That often happens in business too – we generally enjoy the perceived ‘scary things’ we do and they are never as bad as we expected them to be.
This is about reflection. As I was in the water, I was thinking about the experience and what I might change, if anything. Maybe I could wear some swimming shorts to keep me a little warmer next time, choose a slightly better spot? Reflection is something we don’t do enough of in business. We need to create SPACE to think, to reflect, as this is where our true growth comes from.
As a sensitive soul, I knew that I might need some transitional space after this new experience. I had a picnic blanket and towel at the ready, so I could just sit a while and take in the experience and all the associated thoughts and feelings. I sipped water as I let the sun warm my back. Likewise, when you have just achieved something in your business, no matter how small, take some time afterwards for space and to reward yourself in some way.
Celebrate your wins & be proud
After overcoming this personal challenge, I shouted it from the rooftops – I was, and still am, PROUD of myself! I shared it on social media, recorded a video (see below) and it even led to me writing this blog post. We do not do this enough – it is OK to share your wins…I hereby give you all the permission you need to share your wins, in life and in business. By all means share with me in the Calmpreneur Facebook group, or send me a message and I will celebrate with you.
Here’s the video I made about my experience (first recorded live in the Calmpreneur Facebook community)
So these were my business lessons from a wild swimming experience. It’s funny how you can be inspired to write a whole blog post about just one thing you’ve tried, but going back to the whole ‘space’ thing, I think that being restful and doing things you love, often sparks creativity. Maybe this is something you can try if you’re experiencing a creative block right now.
Please comment if you enjoyed this blog. Have you tried wild swimming before? I would love to hear about your experience!