The 2013 NACLNC® Conference Cruise is just 29 days away! We all have the chance to go scuba diving in Cozumel, Mexico − home to some of the best snorkeling and diving you’ll ever experience. The upcoming Cruise reminds me of a personal story I wrote about how I learned to flex my agility and dive deep. Here it is.
We all understand the significance of agility to grow a successful CLNC® business. But how agile are we really and how can agility in our personal life help us grow in our business life? Read on…
A near-drowning experience when I was a child left me wary of swimming and totally unwilling to go deeper than snorkeling along the water’s surface on a trip to Fiji.
Before Tom and I went to Fiji, he had already been scuba diving many times during the preceding five years. I’d heard his fun stories, but I knew he still occasionally experienced anxiety due to a long-ago diving incident. Tom, the daredevil, with all his diving experience, having anxiety? That made it even harder for me to decide to go for it. The only way I would venture out on the dive boat was with the promise to myself that I could choose not to go into the water.
Upon arrival at the reef, the first thing the dive master talked about was sharks. “This is their world. They’re in control. Don’t approach or move toward them. Respect them. Respect their space.” Actually, sharks didn’t scare me at all. I was too afraid of the water to worry about sharks. First I had to get into the water. Then I’d think about sharks.
Several years earlier on Maui I had tried to learn to dive. On that first attempt Tom, my 14-year-old nephew Matt and I started our lessons in the pool. As soon as the water closed over my face mask and I struggled with the weight of the tank and BCD vest that threatened to drown me, I climbed out of the pool and didn’t look back. Within the safety of the shore, I enjoyed a massage instead. While they took to the ocean like fish, exploring coral reefs, shipwrecks and the limitless variety of sea life, I clung to my beach chair with my self-help book.
On later vacations Tom and I worked out a compromise. He would dive, then return to snorkel with me. Although not much of a swimmer, I was a great flailer. I snorkeled in the shallows, where I could stand up when I tired from flailing or needed to adjust my mask. Yoga practice had prepared me for proper breathing and body control, and over time my confidence grew. So did the quality of my flailing. To this day my nephew calls me shark bait.
Back to Fiji: I watched a young girl with a mental disability go out doggedly every day learning to dive, while I stayed safely on the surface, afraid to leave my shallow comfort zone for the deeper unknown. I wondered who had the greater disability, she or I. Hers was real, mine only imagined. Who was more agile?
Every afternoon, Tom regaled me with stories of turtles, lionfish, hammerhead sharks and the vibrant coral he saw on his dives while I continued flailing about in the shallows. But each day I snorkeled into deeper and deeper water until finally, on day four of my vacation, I built up the confidence to approach the edge of a 300-foot wall. Looking into its depths I was suddenly no longer content to observe from the surface. My curiosity engaged, I longed to dive deep and envelope myself in the dark wonders below. I resolved to try diving again.
My first dive was in a shallow bay. I clung to the bottom, pulling up sand and sea grass at 15 feet down. Easy. Being close to the bottom gave me security and perspective, and the small success encouraged me to go for more.
On the second dive I dove longer and deeper to 25 feet. On my third dive, we boated to a sandy ledge that led to the 300-foot wall I was ready to explore. The boat rocked on five-foot swells. Tom and the dive master rolled off the side of the boat backwards – the standard diver’s show-off entry. When the dive master instructed me to do the same, I said, “No way!” and headed down the narrow stepladder designed for deck shoes, not fins. No easy feat. Tom said it was typical of me to take the hard way down. Stepping from the ladder, I slid beneath the surface.
After the initial roller coaster ride associated with equalizing my ears and my anxiety, we swam along the shallow bottom to the precipice and slowly dropped into the 300-foot abyss. Surprisingly, the stability and quiet of being underwater was a wonderful respite from the swells that bounced the boat on the surface. Anyway, it does no good to scream underwater.
I was grateful that my beginner’s depth was limited to 45 feet, but swimming along the side of the wall I was still clearly in another world, with nothing under my fins but darkness.
Soon I was keenly observing the sea life; coral heads, bulbs, fans and thousands of fish, all sizes and temperaments, from the diminutive clown fish bravely defending his anemone home, to the shy 35-pound sweetlips, who disappeared into his coral cavern at the first sight of us. My dive master floated serenely behind me, arms crossed, conserving breath and energy. Only his fins were moving, even when the menacing 10-foot reef sharks swam past us.
As my breathing became more relaxed and quiet, I began to hear the sounds of the sea life. Midway, Tom joined me, held my hand in celebration, and I lost all sense of time, depth – and my childhood fear. While I’ll never be a fish in the water, I was now enjoying their world. Even more, I was enjoying my newfound agility.
Challenge a Fixed Viewpoint
Where would I be if I hadn’t challenged my fear of water? Probably where I am now, but with less confidence. I believe the happiest people are those who are always growing and stretching. The only way to grow is to question, challenge, probe for new answers and be agile enough to try new things.
In a career, you grow or you die professionally. Most of us are willing to stretch when it comes to our careers. It’s expected. You strive for a bigger paycheck, a bigger promotion, more influence or more power. Why don’t we do the same in our personal lives? One always affects the other.
In life, as in your career, when you neglect growth, the passion inside you cools. Plan not only for a bigger house or an updated vehicle, but for inner growth. Try to reinvent yourself on a regular basis. You don’t want to wake up five years from now and greet the same person in the mirror. You want to see a nurse who has transcended her former boundaries. Refusing to grow and stretch keeps you locked in a box of your own making, just as not taking that dive might have kept me out of the deep underwater world for the rest of my life. We set up our own failure when we believe those insidious mantras, “I can’t…I don’t…I wasn’t trained for that.”
A nurse in one of our seminars was struggling with the fast-paced training and was extremely upset because she wasn’t grasping the content. I offered to let her leave the seminar and study the CLNC® Certification Home Study Program at her own pace.
She refused the offer. Instead, she sat on the front row the entire six days talking to herself, escalating her frustration and not listening to a word of the seminar. At the end of the program, she was one of only a few nurses who failed the certification examination. Ninety-five percent of the class passed. She had sabotaged herself by self-talk. Perceiving her condition to be less than perfect, she created, then reinforced, those perceived conditions. Even if the class seemed overwhelming, she could have dramatically improved her experience by challenging her fixed viewpoint.
That’s not to say we should shut our eyes to problems. Agility comes in recognizing what’s not working and fixing it. But there’s a difference between complaining or stirring up unrest and pointing out a situation that needs to be changed. When employees come to me with a complaint, I say, “Don’t criticize – strategize and offer an alternative.” I don’t expect the perfect solution, but I do expect a suggestion.
I didn’t always own a sizeable company. I grew up selling Avon, working at Burger King and then working as a nurse. Owning a growing company constantly challenges my viewpoints and has taught me this attitude: “Wherever you are, make the most of it by questioning, probing and challenging fixed viewpoints.” Add a sense of wonder and curiosity. The more you open up to the amazing world around you, the more agility you will have.
I could easily have enjoyed Fiji without flexing my agility beyond snorkeling, but after I challenged my viewpoint, Fiji became an unforgettable, life-changing experience. Inside every nurse is the agility to be anything she wants to be and to do everything her passionate vision demands.
Flex your agility today to create your own CLNC® success!
P.S. Comment and share how you’ve flexed your agility as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.