Just Keep Swimming

About a year ago, I began swimming.  I was an avid swimmer as a kid, but had not swam regularly since I was 17 years old.  My first time in the pool last year, I barely made it through 3 laps before I was a wheezing mess.  The lifeguards thought I was having a heart attack. 

Nevertheless, I went back a few days later.  Within a few weeks I managed to work up to about 6 laps.  I watched this older guy relentlessly swim lap after lap.  He was easily 20 years older than me.  I asked him what his secret was. His brilliant advice: just keep swimming.  Uh, thanks, Dory. (This was a line from the movie Finding Nemo.)

I set a goal to swim 36 laps, a mile.  At this point, I was still gasping at 6 laps. 36 laps seemed impossible.  I took my fellow swimmer’s advice – just keep swimming.  A week later, I got a cold and had to stop swimming for a few weeks.  I got back in the pool when I felt better.  I got another cold. Another few weeks off.  Got back in the pool.  The pool closed for a week when some pipe burst. Got back in when they reopened. Ripped my swim suit, got a new one. 

Slowly I improved: 10, 15, 20, then 30 laps.  One Sunday morning in January, I got in the pool and thought “today is the day. I will swim 36 laps!” 

On this day, I had two different people get in my way. My goggles broke, twice.  The lifeguards made me change lanes, because I was going too fast. And at lap 29 I got a nasty cramp in my foot.

Just keep swimming.  

When I finished my 36th lap, it was a fantastic feeling.  I did it! I made my goal. A few lifeguards came over to congratulate me, except for one who dismissed my accomplishment as “easy.” I dismissed her. 

I tell you this story because this is how life, business, and for that matter information security works. No matter what goal you set, how hard you try, or what you want to accomplish – you will face impediments.  The universe never makes it easy. It will fight you, because it enjoys making us work hard. Technologies will fail you, people will dismiss you, new problems will appear out of nowhere.

I’ve spent the better part of my life building a business. It has been a non-stop struggle. Every day we endure yet another setback, impediment, or challenge.  I tell the Anitian team: roll with it. It will get better. 

If it was easy, anybody could do it. Things that are difficult are worth the effort.  If you want to succeed, you need to push aside the impediments and…just keep swimming. 


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