It’s Going Swimmingly, Thank You

My three-year old grandson is part fish.

I came to this conclusion yesterday, watching him joyfully splash around the pool, launch himself into the water, and confidently swim the length of the pool. Lucas loves swimming – can’t get enough. And like the other 90 percent of parents/grandparents who believe their children/grandchildren are above average, I KNOW that he’s a much better swimmer than other three-year olds!

Good thing, because when it comes to tumbling in gym class, he’s not exactly setting the world on fire. I know this because I took Lucas to gym class last week, and it was almost painful to watch him try to do cartwheels, walk on the balance beam or do straddle rollovers. He and the other boy in the class were dead last in all these exercises, while the little girls seem to have been born with springs in their legs.

Which brings to mind a conversation I had with a friend some years ago, when I had moved from communication consulting to business development for my agency. He, an accomplished physician and a graduate of Stanford, was simply astonished that I would happily talk to strangers, pitch a piece of business, negotiate terms and sign the deal. To him, this seemed the equivalent of Lucas in gym class – unnatural, hard and intimidating, while for me, it was like Lucas swimming – easy, joyful, fun. I remember blinking in surprise. “But Matthew,” I said. “You’ve got to be kidding – you HEAL people! You deal with blood and pain and disease. You hold people’s lives in your hands! All I do is make some sales calls.” To me, being a physician is my equivalent of Lucas’s gym class, but to Matthew, it’s like swimming for Lucas – you just jump in the water and you do it because it’s fulfilling.

I try to keep these lessons in mind when offering career advice to others – do what comes naturally, what is joyful, what is fulfilling. Don’t do what goes against your nature unless there is something hidden in it that makes you feel extraordinary. Some of us are gymnasts. Some of us are swimmers.

Love yourself for what you’re good at. Forgive yourself for what you’re not.

Vive la différence!

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