Grow Through, What You Go Through
I was four or five years old and with my family at a cookout. The people we were visiting had an in-ground pool and I was in the shallow end swimming around because my feet touched the bottom and I had plenty of room to play. It was a great day and I had a lot of fun in the pool.
After a long while, I had decided that I wanted to get out for a while and had a crazy idea that I wanted to get out of the pool a different way. I did not want to climb out of the built-in steps that was at the in the shallow end. I wanted to climb out using the ladder that was located on the other side of the rope in the deep end.
I walked up to the rope and saw a small ledge that ran around the deep end that was the same height as the shallow end. I wasn’t supposed to cross the rope but the ladder was not far and I knew I could make it. I duct under the rope and used my tip toes on the ledge to stay above water. I was halfway to the ladder and everything was going fine, about five more steps and I would grab hold of the ladder and get out of the pool.
Thinking of how close I was getting to the ladder distracted my mind from what I was doing and my toes slipped off of the narrow ledge and I went under the water. I remember hitting my rear on the slope of the pools deep end and sliding to the drain at the bottom. The deep end was about 14 feet and I was that far under water, unable to swim and seeing nothing but blue color. I remember hearing the sound of the drain as it sucked in water to recycle through the filter and being to young to understand death, I was not afraid of dying but scared only because I could not breath.
The next thing I recall was a loud splash in the water and a pair of arms reaching around me and thrusting me to the surface where half a dozen arms quickly pulled me out of the water. I began coughing hard and having trouble taking a breath, even though I had air to breathe. It would not be long, however, before I was able to breathe fully and the coughing began to lessen. Soon, I was breathing slowly and the coughing went away and I sat in a chair for everyone to see that I was alright in the event I needed to see a doctor.
For the following year, I would not take a bath in any bathtub because of the drain that was under the water, just the sound of a drain being pulled scared me.
I would go the next 34 years with a strong fear of water. It would often take me a long amount of time to me able to swim in an above ground pool and most times, I would not swim in an in-ground one. In all of those years, I never got on a boat or touched the water of a lake.
Fast forward from being four or five to thirty-eight and spending the last year and a half developing a powerful mindset for growth and elevation, this past Father’s Day Weekend, I felt a nerve racking desire to face that tri-decade fear! I went with Lynden, Ethan, Rylen and some of their other family to Mill Creek Lake in Marshall, Illinois. There, we rented a cabin, played checkers at night, grilled out and made S’mores.
On Saturday, I went down to the dock with my kids and we all put our feet in the water. This was a big step for me to walk on the dock, let alone put my feet in the water. We watched fish swim around and splashed in the water with out feet. Then their uncle arrived with his boat and asked if we would like to go out on the water for the day. I knew then that it was time to take my mindset to the next level!
I walked onto their dock and climbed into the boat and as we all got seated and Ethan and Rylen put on their life vest, I watched as the water was only several inches from where I was sitting, yet, I made up my mind I had to make good on my challenge. We then backed away from the dock and I gripped the sidebar and held on as the boat took off.
The water splashed everywhere and and felt that fear in my face, reminding me that he was very much there. I remained focused and soon we found a cove to drop anchor so everyone could swim safely. Then, Ethan asked if I would get in and I saw that as another challenge. I said yes and asked him to give me a minute. I then took off my shirt and sat on the deck of the boat. Then, with my heart beating fast, I grabbed a hold of the deck rail and jumped into the lake! It was a couple seconds later that the fear was pushed aside and a reward revealed itself. That reward was the feeling of triumph!
Over the next couple of hours, we took the kids in the tube, drove across the lake and I got into the water a second time and swam for a long time again. When it came time for grilling out, we took one more lap around the lake and I call that my victory lap, and as the weekend drew to a end, I went to that next level and realized that I could do it, and so can you!
It may not be water for you, it may be a new job, buying a house, moving or a million other things. Just know that if deep inside your really wanting to conquer that fear, your biggest reward will be doing just that! When things happen in life, we have only two choices, define it or let it define us, that’s it no choice number three. Move ahead in life by always pushing yourself and going to the next level. The sky is limit!
“Grow through, what you go through!” – Gary Vaynerchuk