The rain fell from the silver-grey sky onto the group of us. Standing on the windswept beach, we listened to the words we did not want to hear. The Big Swim was canceled due to the weather conditions. My brother and forty-five other swimmers had spent the better half of the year training to swim the 17 kilometers (10 miles) across the North Cumberland Strait from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island only to be disappointed.
The lead organizer had talked about the difference between our expectations and reality and defined it as the feeling of disappointment. On that Sunday Morning, there were many disappointed people on the beach, some cried, some sighed, some bent their head in quiet prayer. A few optimistic souls shouted, “next year,” a rallying cry to know the effort, discipline and sacrifice had meant something.
As a support kayaker and a witness to the hard-work it takes to prepare for such a quest, I too was disappointed, for me, for my brother and for all those you had worked hard to be left standing in the rain on the beach; our goal was just out of reach across 17 kilometers of turmoil and lighting.
On my way home, I could not help but think that there were lessons to be learned from the Big Swim about how to achieve our own dreams. Below are the six lessons I learned and how they can help us achieve our goals faster.
- Preparation: The North Cumberland Straight, 17 kilometers wide at its narrowest, is known for its strong tidal currents and roaring winds. It is not a place to take for granted. Preparation is critical to the success of any who plan to swim across it. Training started with rising early every day and swimming. First in the pool, then in a lake, and then in the ocean until the swimmer was physically and mentally prepared to make the attempt.
- Support: The bigger your goal, the more support you will need. The support will come in a variety of sizes, from the little to the large. Before the event, my brother’s wife gave him support to train by watching their two young kids every Saturday morning. The organizers provided constant communication to make sure the swimmers had everything they needed to be successful. The day of the event, hundreds of supporters from kayak carriers, check-in volunteers, boat captains, and family members made sure the swimmers had everything they needed to be successful.
- Community: Community is essential to success. My brother met and trained with a group of like-minded swimmers from his home town. He learned from their experience; shared his expertise and leaned on them as the training took its toll. In the early Sunday morning dawn, together they lessened the disappointment of not swimming with laughter and hugs, sharing the loss to diminish its impact.
- Limitations: We all have limitations. We can choose to let them define us, or we can push against them. In the group of swimmers who were attempting the Big Swim, the ages ranged from 11 to 73 years. None of them let their limitations define them. The eleven-year-old could have let those who said it was too dangerous for her to stop her from doing what she wanted. She did not; she was in wave three – the elite swimmers; ready to go.
- Drive: The swimmers who had completed the swim before said that there is a time in the middle of the straight when exhaustion has crept into your muscles, and the sky and ocean have blended into one, you think about quitting but you continue till your feet hit the sand. No matter the goal, we have all reached that place where we want to stop. Those that are successful keep going pushing forward by an inner drive toward their goal.
- Celebration: Soon after the announcement of the cancellation of the Big Swim, a quiet applause rose from the crowd on the beach and slowly turned into a standing ovation for the swimmers. The applause was recognizing the effort they had made to reach this point on the beach, the hard-work, the dedication, and scarifies they made. We too need to recognize our progress and celebrate our wins.
Goals are just dreams without wings.
Even in disappointment, there are lessons to be learned. Thomas Eidson once said, “I have not failed 10,000 times, I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” No matter what we dream of accomplishing, we can not do it without a lot of hard-work, dedication, and sacrifice. As you plan your next business adventure, think about these six lessons and how you can apply them to achieving your dreams. As a leadership guide, I help people plan their dreams and provide the necessary skills and tools for them to be successful. If you are ready to start your journey, let’s get together and begin the work required for you to reach your dreams.