Alone on the enormous beach, it was as if we had discovered a secret paradise. The crystal clear water barely had a ripple, the sun was hot with the perfect cool breeze, and we took a collective deep breath as we looked out on the deep blue expanse in front of us.
“Come on! Let’s go!” shouted one friend to the next.
Someone grabbed a ball for skimming and playing.
The girls carved out their own space to catch up after a long absence.
Everyone was smiling and laughing.
“What was that?”
“Something got me!”
One by one.
“It got my chest!”
One by one they got out of the water to admire the welts left by the stingers; the small jellyfish that were impossible to see until it was too late.
Tears dried and we moved on to sandcastles and relaxing. Soon, there was a game of cricket going too. After a while, hot and happy, we turned back to the water.
“Come on, it will be fine,” said our friend to the children.
“Let’s go,” said the friends to each other only this time slightly wary that paradise wasn’t exactly perfect.
My son decided to wait it out with me on the shore. Too afraid to go back in he told them he needed a drink for a minute. He’d be there soon… even though I knew he wouldn’t.
The girls decided they could catch on the beach as easily as in the water. “We’ll go in later,” they shouted in unison.
Five brave people unwilling to give up on the fun thanks to a little pain waded back into the water.
I closed my eyes, relaxed, and then the shouting began.
“Take off your shorts, mate! Get them off!”
A stinger had floated into the youngest child’s bathing suit and was having a party on his skin.
Soon after, we all left the beach and made our way back to the house.
The next day, we woke up to clear skies and the ocean inviting us to return.
My son said, “Let’s do something else. Out of the water.”
My daughter said, “We can’t avoid the water forever. We’re here for the beach. Why let one sting stop us?”
At work, I’ll bet you’ve waded into situations that looked like they’d be ideal and felt the shocking sting of the unexpected. I know I have.
You have three choices…
1) Get out of the water… or the project or company or team.
2) Persist… there aren’t stingers everywhere.
3) Stay on the shore… begin to play on the edges and let others go in deep.
Who are you?
When you get stung, are you so afraid to go back into the water that you’re willing to give up all of the other parts that are amazing?
When you see other people get stung, do you get out before it happens to you?
When you know that what could happen isn’t guaranteed to happen, do you give it another go because it’s worth it, or do you let your fear lead the way?
How many times are you willing to feel the sting before moving on? Once, twice, ten times?
How do you decide when something’s worth it?
How do you know that things haven’t changed and the danger that you’re dreading is no longer present until you get in and start to swim again?
Will you watch others doing what you wish you could do?
Today we’re taking a break from the beach, but I know we’re going back tomorrow. Looking at the water, feeling the call and instead diving into our fear teaches our children that fear wins. I’m not suggesting that we go in ten days in a row and get stung day after day but one day, one try, one dip, does not tell enough of a story.
Life is full of unknowns and danger at every turn. To live your best, fullest and most fulfilling life, you can’t worry about when and where the next sting will come. Incredible things are available to you when you go all-in not without fear, but despite it.
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