Tipping your boat

I came across a wonderful quote over the weekend.

“She tipped the boat to get me to swim”.

The presenter was speaking about how a friend sparked her transition from someone worried extensively about what others thought, to someone who focused on winning her own race.

It’s a wonderful analogy. Closing my eyes, I can imagine us all floating around in our own boats. Boats formed from beliefs about ourselves, our worth and our value. The thing about floating is that you don’t have to exert much energy. You can wile away your days just accepting the environment as it comes, drifting in any direction the elements take you.

Then there is the beautiful image of swimming . One where you are cold and wet, splashing and kicking against the tide in an attempt to get somewhere. Swimming is tiring work. Exhausting at times, stressed limbs forcing you to shift styles and movements to maintain momentum.

Its easy to see why sitting in a boat would be the easier option.

But then there is the satisfaction of being in control of making it to the destination, feeling the both the satisfying burn of exertion and the exhilaration of achievement.

So, here is my question to you…

What holding you back from tipping your boat and swimming?

As a young woman who entered emergency management in the 1990s, I learnt pretty quickly that as long as I agreed with the blokes and didn’t provide any alternate suggestions, I was offered more opportunities for training, rostered on preferred shifts, and included in more activities. There was a distinct “right way” to do things and as long as I followed the “rules”, I was included in the team. These early learnings contributed extensively to the construction of my professional boat.

About 6 years ago, my boat spectacularly flipped. During an incident, the usual “right way” didn’t work and as IC, I saw a nervous IMT looking at me to come up with an out-of-the-box solution. I had to break away from doing things the usual way, follow my gut instincts and use my own skills, knowledge and experience to solve a significant issue for a community in need. I had to redefine the “rules” and step out into the unknown.

And you know what? I swam!

Perhaps it wasn’t a graceful butterfly, or a fabulous freestyle, but I didn’t sink. And the next time it happened, I swam stronger and more confidently.

I didn’t know I could until I had to.

So, what’s holding you back from discovering what you are capable of? It’s time to rock the boat and see what happens when you fall in.

Leadership Challenge
Choose a task or issue you been putting off. Maybe it is a hard conversation with one of your team, or applying for a role you perceive is just out of your reach. Make it your goal this week to have a crack at it, just jump in and give it a go. When you have tried (and it doesn’t matter if you succeed or not), reflect on how trying made you feel. Where you afraid? Or excited? What happened next?

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