Swimming with Turtles

We paddled out about ¼ mile off the Maui shore. We “anchored” so to speak and the other 5 kayakers started putting on their snorkeling gear. I sat there breathing deep feeling some trepidation that I’d be forced to join in and get in the crystal-clear ocean. And once in, they seriously expected me to get back in the kayak without flipping it?

I had made it perfectly clear to our guide that I was happy to kayak out but I wouldn’t be snorkeling – I don’t swim. I don’t mean I don’t like to or I’m out of practice.  No, I don’t swim. My mother was terrified of water and other than bobbing around in a friend’s pool as a kid. I. Don’t. Swim.

At times, we are challenged in very interesting ways. 1. My husband is a good swimmer, 2. Our friends we were traveling with are both lifeguards, 3. Our guide was a Viet Nam Veteran (and I have an over-the-top obsession/affinity for the military.) Could I be safer?

Eighteen months ago, I attended Driven For Life’s BOLD: Advanced Leadership. Six months ago, I attended FORGE: Team Execution. These programs are about taking the absolute best performers in life and developing them into Champions. These two programs gave me a new perspective on life and a new definition of self. Champion. I learned leadership in a very new way, what it is to live All In, what it looks like to embrace life, to live BOLD, to Defy the Status Quo, to set goals and accomplish them time after time after time. To live life courageously. This isn’t an advertisement, this is me, simply telling my story.

Yet, here I sat in a kayak, a quarter mile offshore with snorkeling gear in my lap. Was I really going to pass up this opportunity? From fear? With a life vest and four people who could rescue me?

The hardest things are surprisingly simple. Not easy, but simple.

Put on the gear, roll to one side, hand over hand and slip into the water. Simple.

We set goals, and we work to achieve them.  We focus, we use affirmations, we strive, we reach. We may even stretch and grow.

We recently drove from San Diego to Oregon. If you have ever driven the length of California, you quickly realize how incredibly long this state is. I kept saying over and over, “Have they moved the border? How long could this drive possibly be.” Ever feel that way in reaching a goal?

Like the goal post has moved, and as you get close, it moves again. Somehow, it’s been placed on casters and someone behind the curtain keeps pulling it further north everytime we get close.

We think we know where we are going, but the goal post keeps moving and we keep chasing it.

And then at times we, find as we chase the goal, we’ve shifted just one degree here or one degree there, and now we’ve veered off-course. We are in a very different place from where we thought we’d be.

There is that moment when you look around, for a flash all goes dark and you realize you don’t know quite where you are.  It’s time for a u-turn or a 2-degree shift back to the interstate. You’ve lost your way, and the rerouting begins.

As business owners, managers, dreamers and visionaries, we are constantly bombarded with voices calling us to give up on our dreams and retreat to the security of a conventional life, to the status quo.

To keep moving forward and to keep from giving up, our conviction must be stronger than all those voices. The voices that say we’ll drown.

We’re doing things right, revenue is there, procedures in place, our team is strong (maybe not perfect, but whose is?). We may even be industry leaders. Best-in-class. We’re good and getting better. There is evidence of being on the right track

But as a leader am I getting better? Am I bettering my best? Not just my best but my meaningful, impactful best. How am I as a person? As I get older, I’ve come to realize that is the only measure that matters. Impact.

A vision, a passion, a calling, a why. And there lies the 2%. Drive 2% off course for 100 miles and you’ll find yourself in the wrong town. Drive 200 miles and you’re in the wrong state.

Often the missing 2% is merely the why. Why am I doing what I am doing. What is my impact? How am I making a difference? And, to whom.

Correcting the 2%

The self we need to compare ourselves with is our very best self. Are we still there? Three comparisons to look at:

  • What are the values we upheld in our greatest moments?
  • What is the work we did at our very best?
  • What is the impact we made that we are most proud of?

Are we still there? When you look deeply and honestly at these measures and think about what really matters, are you off-course? The insidious thing about slippery slopes is that they’re usually so gradual, you don’t realize you’re slipping until you’re far off the path.

As our efforts drift off course, so does our personal energy and attention. We no longer chase the goal post much less the gold trophy, at least not in our self.
Correcting the 2% takes optimism, enthusiasm, and buoyancy of spirit about the work you do and the people you do it for. Are you there? You had it once, do you still have it? And if not, are you willing to take a risk to move back on course?

Back to turtles

So, I sat in the kayak as the others readied themselves. I kayaked out there – I know lots of people who wouldn’t have even done that. But, that comparison doesn’t matter, does it?

The only comparison that matters is the one against the best version of ourselves.

At the end of the day, I want to be that person that says, “I gave it my all. I was the best me I could be.  I never accepted status quo.”

I want to be brave, bold, and always reaching for the best, for myself and others.

So, in the water, I went. I didn’t drown.

What I did do was swim (with a life vest) for about two hours among brightly colored fish, huge spotted eel rays, humongous over-friendly turtles and friends who supported me and wouldn’t let me drown.

My goal is to embrace life, to live all in and to live life courageously. Challenge accepted.

 God-Sight, Snorkeling Maui Turtles