Let’s face it, most of us work hard at really churning the water. On a good day we can tell we’re making progress, on a bad day we’re swimming against the tide and just trying to keep afloat.
We rarely slow down to think about the glide…
I heard about the power of the glide from a wonderful coach who also teaches adults to swim. She has masses of glorious curly hair and a can-do philosophy.
She was explaining that part of our progress in swimming comes in the stroke, where we push against the resistance in the water. Then the other part is where we slide forward, gliding on the power we already exerted. She says the glide is equally important and far less exhausting.
I’ve been thinking about how little we acknowledge, and never seem to rate, the times in life where it is essential to glide.
Somehow, if we aren’t forcing ourselves forward and pushing against the resistance, we don’t feel we’re adding value or pursuing our dream. Yet, we all recognize there are times in life to turn on your turbo jets and other times you just need to quietly glide on and let the opportunities catch up with you.
We can’t go full throttle all the time
A couple of coaching experiences, I’ve had lately, really brought this home for me.
One was with a woman who changed careers, her husband had an unexpected illness, she’d become the breadwinner. She jumped with both feet into a media agency and had been swimming hard for the last few of years. As a result, she was making a real success of her job.
Fortunately, her husband had recovered and recently gone back to work. She thought it was a good time for her to change agencies, move up a notch and push herself even harder.
The more we talked, the more apparent it became that she was weary on every level. She’d managed her stressful job, her kids and the worry of nursing her husband. Now was not the moment to gear up for interviewing and a new job commitment. She needed a bit of time to glide.
Another client, in a growing company could see the opportunities around her. She’d gotten in at the right moment and was leading the charge in their company’s growth. Having watched their numbers soar and managed everyone else’s stress, she’d been floored with some unexplainable stomach problems. We worked on what she needed to do to take her foot off the accelerator and just let things coast for a bit while she sorted out her own health.
I checked in with her to see if our session helped and she articulated it beautifully, “ I have taken away that it is ok for me to breathe. I can take work down a gear and plateau, even if it is for only two months.”
Actively seeking passivity
The trick is to learn to appreciate this ability to glide, before we get slammed with a health issue, exhaustion or burnout.
It also helps to think about enjoying the calm, when we realize that we are out of sync with the opportunities we’re seeking. If we enjoy the glide – we give a bit of time and space for possibilities to open up.
We are so used to the motion, the activity, the busyness that we have no idea how to take time to allow things to happen while we recharge our batteries.
Taking short stretches of calm time doesn’t mean you’ve gotten lazy. It isn’t going to hurt your future or diminish your ambition.
Think of it as taking advantage of that power you’ve exerted, then allow yourself to be still as you slice forward without effort. You’re still in motion, you’re just conserving your energy so you can apply it when it counts.
Whether September is the start of your big swim up to Christmas or you are impatiently waiting for the next job, promotion or creative opportunity, you can use this.
All your activity and exertions will be crucial to get what you want done.
But equally, look for your opportunities to glide. Allow yourself to get a new perspective, take time to read, renew, reflect.
Let the effort you’ve exerted carry you along.