Swimming and Leading

I’ve never been a skilled swimmer.  I used to dread the week in elementary school when we’d load up on busses and trek to the district high school for swimming lessons.  I always tested into the “beginner group” and feared what my peers would think of me. Throughout the week, I remember feeling incompetent and embarrassed as I gobbled up water while trying to coordinate my arms, legs, and breath.

Lately, I’ve had recurring dreams (well, nightmares, really)  where I am back in the high school pool, and my elementary gym teacher is telling me to “go down and back” a few times.  Oh, and she will be timing me and everyone is watching, so I better do a good job. I wake up in a panic every time.

This semester, I am enrolled in a mindfulness course (CSPH 5807).  It is an amazing class, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.  Through the course and having undergone subsequent reflection, I have steadily

increased my  awareness of a few things:

  1. I am not balanced nor centered.  I am constantly looking to the future and this only heightens my anxiety.
  2. I am not living out my values. I work in Leadership, but I don’t currently see myself as a leader.
  3. I routinely feel as though I am back in elementary school swim lessons, unprepared and embarrassed, gasping for air.

So, what do I do with this information?  It is not a fun place to be, and I constantly teeter between two dominant voices.  One voice tells me this is an important phase of my life. I am learning, growing, and developing.  Growth isn’t comfortable, so keep on keeping on. The other voice tells me to take care of myself and let things go.  It isn’t healthy to feel this way.

Who do I listen to?  Do I perpetuate this “always busy, efficient, and productive” type of behavior so commonly awarded in our society?  Or, do I take a stand and actively choose to drop something in my life? If I choose this path, what do I prioritize?  What do I drop? I know what I would tell a peer or family member, but it is so much harder to be objective with myself. (Also, is it just me, or do you find yourself having similar conversations in your mind?)

As I continue to engage in this conversation with myself, I realize leaders can “step off path” every now and then; it is a natural human behavior, after all!  The key is how one responds and reacts.

Additionally, leaders take what they learn from self-reflection, consultation, and meaningful action and continue to apply it in the future.

What I will do now?  I am still not certain.  But, what I do know is this is not sustainable and if I continue down this path, it is because I actively chose it.  

Writing this blog post opened up space in my mind to introduce and play with creativity.  I’ve found a solution (and there are probably 100 possibilities) I am happy with, and I am pursuing that path for now.  Oh, how helpful the process of writing can be! Thank you for allowing me the space to work through this, dear leader friends!