Most Sunday’s I try and get a good swim done first thing so I can tick the exercise box for the day. It’s more of a task than an event of enjoyment so is definitely something I want to get done quickly. I am slightly embarrassed to confess that this can sometimes result in me being, possibly, not the most patient swimmer in the pool, however, most Sunday’s I am reasonable lucky as the pool is often virtually empty with sensible people having a well earned lie in.
A few weeks ago you might remember that it was the Sport Relief weekend and lots of people, especially children, were taking on the task of doing some sort of sporting activity for charity. Well, the pool was packed at the time I decided to go. Lots of swimming lessons going on and consequently a reduction of space available to swim in.
My mood changed …
I spotted a boy, of about 12 years old I suppose, really struggling to swim with a lady behind him that I assumed to be his Mum, neither of them seemingly aware of the ‘lane rules’. I ignored this for a bit, kept my head down and just tried to swim past them when I could in our tiny little lane. I then noticed a huddle of people at the side of the pool, which is usual, but again didn’t really think about as I was too pre occupied with my own agenda, “get this swim down as quick as I can!”
After a few more lengths it was getting increasingly difficult to accommodate the various swimmers in our lane and I thought I was probably best to just give up on my exercise tick box for the day, very frustrating. As I slowed down, intending on getting out, the lady swimming behind the boy, tapped me on the shoulder and started to speak to me. She thanked me for my patience in the swimming lane, as she realized they were holding everyone up. She then went on to explain that the boy she was swimming behind, Ryan, was doing a sponsored swim for Sport Relief and that he had only learnt to swim a few weeks ago and was really struggling. He wanted to swim 2 miles (128 lengths in our pool), he suffered with asthma and his Mum couldn’t swim so couldn’t support him, so the lady I was chatting to was his Mum’s friend, Sarah.
I immediately felt terrible, as of course, in my head 2 minutes ago I had not been patient at all and was just about to get out of the pool in a bit of a strop.
Sarah looked exhausted, swimming 2 miles is tough for most of us after all but she carried on and I watched for a few minutes. When they eventually got back to me I asked Ryan, if he would feel comfortable with me swimming with him rather than Sarah. He said he was, as long as I swam at his pace with him, and that I would not abandon him, so I promised I would do both of those things.
Sarah looked delighted and relieved and got out quickly before I changed my mind.
So we swam our remaining lengths together. Ryan completed his swim successfully and I did break one of his rules at the end as I just wanted to see him swim his last length on his own, so I stopped everyone in the lane and we all cheered him on.
Now, this to me, was absolutely nothing, did not particularly take any extra effort from me, any special skill or anything like that. What it did need though was for me to be less focused on my own agenda.
I am so glad I didn’t let my mini strop get the better of me that day and that I actually stayed and helped Ryan, as I got more enjoyment, satisfaction and pleasure out of watching him hit his goal than getting anywhere near mine that day. It was a great reminder of the reality we face everyday as consultants. Our role is to assist others in achieving their goals in every piece of work we take on and goes a long way to explain why I genuinely love supporting our clients to achieve their goals, everyday.