The first time I stepped in a pool to learn how to swim was on a dull and wet October day almost 23 years ago. I was 12 and with 30 other classmates about to jump in. It seemed like I was the only one nervous at this mass free for all in a pool not labelled how deep it was.
At the whistle of our teacher we all stepped in. Dipping our faces in the water, learning how to kick our legs out and other things I truly don’t remember.
I remember leaving that lesson wishing we’d done football instead. Even at that age I did see something appealing about swimming. Swimming seemed to attract a crowd especially with girls in my class.
For my fourteenth birthday I asked for a swimming party at one of the more popular local pools. It was great. Everyone in my class showed up. We went down waterslides and talked with the best looking girls in my class. I was the centre of attention and I liked it.
During the party some friends decided they wanted to jump in at the deep end. I knew that didn’t sound like fun to me but I went along anyway.
We jumped in and instantly I felt my body hit the water badly. I looked up and all I remember seeing were oddly shaped images of people and water above me. Then I heard a thud. Someone jumped in and hit my head while I was swimming up.
It felt like I was underneath the water for an eternity and I couldn’t move. I saw my legs pushing but I wasn’t moving and I panicked.
My eyes shut and it felt like I was drifting further down until a sudden surge of energy kicked in. With a final push, my hands hit the surface and I pulled myself up exhausted.
My friends cheered thinking I did it on purpose and so I guess that’s why no lifeguards came in. I laid on the floor and passed out. They say I was only out for about 2 min but I had spit out more water from my lungs than I care to remember.
That day unknowing to everyone I said I would never go swimming again.
I kept that secret and made excuses for not going to the beach or pool for 20 years. I’d get the confidence to step near the ocean or relax in a small pool but I wouldn’t go any further.
Another 4 years past by and my wife, son and daughter and I were together in the US. We were at a beautiful hotel and hanging out around the pool. My wife had just left to collect something from the room and I could see my daughter going a little too far back in the pool.
There were no life guards in the hotel. It was me and I could see her struggling and I saw those flashbacks again of being 14 and underwater and the story I told myself for 20 years froze me. As soon my daughter called ‘DADDY’ it's almost if the voice began to play a different track and a new voice started that said "it's time to move".
I ran and jumped in like I was a professional rescue diver. Grabbed her and swam back with her to the side and got out of the pool.
My wife had just come back and saw me soaking wet in my shorts and shirt holding my little girl and saying 'I’ll never let the fear of a limit stop me again'.
It would still be another two years before I hired a swim coach to gather back my confidence. We do this together as a family and we’re stronger and more open because of it. I shared my story with my kids so they know dad struggles too and it's allowed them to share their concerns.
When we set limits on what we can or can't do we limit the potential to do more than amazing things. I've learn't that..
"Your beliefs about what's possible are always one choice away from making you limitless or limited"
It took the safety of my daughter to completely re write the story and respond on instinct to act. I never want to wait for something like that to happen before I realise all that I can be for myself, my family, my community, my colleagues, clients and business.
The cost of fear in areas of our life may not always be immediately visible but it is always invisibly present in the moments that matter most for us to act.
Maybe sometimes we need to make the fear of not trying, the fuel to move us into action. Or maybe it's simple understanding of knowing we first have the power to change.
What things have you overcome in your life that has made you who you are today?
Please share and know you have someone who understands that journey.
Jermaine – Your Customer growth guide