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Personal development

Move closer, stay longer

What do you fear?

Avoidance of fear takes its toll on our mental wellbeing. The more we avoid the things we fear, the more we retreat into ourselves, resulting in anxiety and depression.

I hated swimming as a child, the school pool in Oxford England was not heated and the summers not warm enough to make the water luring. It was my move to Australia twelve years ago where I found my love of surfing that finally made me go to swimming lessons.

I was in my late 40s and terrified of swimming. I had never worn goggles and terrified of putting my face under water. Surfing I was ok with as you only go under water when you are thrown off your board or jump off. Somehow I was ok with this, but not swimming where your face is under water a fair proportion of the time.

I read a lot about facing fears and how to move closer and stay longer. Being competitive and always pushing myself, I took a different approach to swimming. It will take as long as it needs to, I will go regularly, will not force myself to put my face in the water. The lack of pressure on myself, meant I could relax. A few years later I completed my first 1Km freestyle swim.

Friends took me out on an ocean swim at Clovelly , which was exhilarating, but my technique needed more work. So I am now back at stroke improvers swim school. Three months on, my swimming has improved, I also completed 25 meters of dolphin (pre cursor to butterfly).

The fear has not gone away, but my regular practice in the pool, has made me more confident, I never thought I would say this, but I enjoy swimming. Once I get going, I find the pace that works for me and I love the feeling of moving through the water.

A month ago I did an Ocean swim clinic at bondi. As we sat on the beach learning about the surf and how to manage swimming, I could feel my anxiety rising, knowing we were swimming out on the north bondi rip. As we stood waist deep in the rip with my goggles on, I started freestyle and before I knew it we were out the back of the waves. I relaxed, how difficult was that? Not at all, in fact it was an amazing feeling as the water acted like a motorway.

The next hour of exercises were challenging but fun, the highlight was the body surf back to the beach. At the end I felt a sense of accomplishment and felt so pleased with myself that I persisted with the swimming.

It’s easy to give into fear, its harder to face it, move closer and stay longer.

Categories
Personal development

Importance of pursuing what makes you happy

For many years I have surfed only in the white water, the only times I have been out the back is in a lesson. I did not learn to surf until my late 40’s which prompted me to learn to swim. Surf camps are great way of getting out very day with a group and last week I took part in a 5 day surf camp with Surf camp Australia in Gerroa. My husband was back at work and I was on compulsory leave, so perfect time for me to get away and do what I love (husband does not surf).

Over the years I have travelled on business on my own, even went to Bali 5 years ago on a surf/yoga retreat for women, but I was surprised at how nervous I felt going away on my own for the first time in a long time.

The fears disappeared fast when I was surrounded by like minded people of all ages and cultures. The staff also made everyone feel very welcome.

Being in nature, with all the elements (many storms) in beautiful scenery, deserted beach, in pristine blue water, empties your mind and makes you feel at peace with yourself and the world around you.

A lot is written about doing a job you love, but outside of work, it is equally important to find the time to do the things that make you happy. My take away from the week, was that I need to find more time to be in nature, it really makes a big difference to our mental well being.

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Personal development

Clean up your own back yard, before criticising others

It’s an easy path to take to criticise others when you are not doing well. However this always reflects poorly on you. I was reminded of this important lesson in a meeting recently where we were brainstorming and were asked to only look within the current year. I automatically only looked at the items that were within my sphere of control.

In a debrief after the session I realised I automatically look at only the things I can control, as beyond that the time and effort involved is significantly greater. My colleagues had a laundry list, very few were within the sphere of control.

Focusing on what you can control to create the right outcome is far more successful than being dependent on others. I use the analogy of a neglected back yard, the weeds are out of control and you cannot see the fence at the back of the yard. Focus on clearing up your yard, before looking over the fence at your neighbours and commenting on how neglected their garden is.

In a previous chapter of my career, I took on a underperforming sales team. I was constantly asked about what others were doing in other areas and always said, I have enough to sort out in my own backyard, that I don’t have the capacity or time to worry about everyone else’s.

That focus and strategy led to turning around an underperforming sales team. That focus has allowed my teams to flourish as we are always maximising what we have control of, instead of consuming time worrying about what everyone else is doing.

Dales Carnegie illustrates this lesson well in his How to win friends and influence people book, Chapter on don’t criticise, condemn and complain.