Tuesday, April 3, 2012

When You Want to Quit...Don't! (And Other Lessons)

Last Saturday my journey to 15,000 yards for cancer research came to a phenomenal end. Not only did I meet my goal, but I exceeded it swimming an extra 500 yards and for a total of 15,550 yards (8.8 miles) in 6 days. If I were to total last year's yardage in the first "Swimming with Edgar" experience with this year's yardage than I would have swam 28,000 yards in 12 days.

Some of my family members drove up from Lake Charles (my hometown) to witness me swim the final distance. Also many of my friends came to watch me complete the final laps. I was grateful to have all of them there to support me. I truly enjoyed their company and cheers of support.

As I reflect on the journey that I traveled in order to reach this point of accomplishment, a few lessons come to mind that I was reminded of along the way.

1. When you want to quit...Don't!

Quitting is not worth it. If anything step back from the situation, call "time-out" and evaluate your surroundings. Sometimes you just need to take a break from the situation. Clear your head for awhile and then step up to it.

I took this approach during the week before I began the actual swim and it definitely made a difference for me. To take a break from the pool for a few days before I really began to swim made me miss being in the water. It also helped my body heal and prepare for the workouts ahead. Lastly, it gave me time to strategize how I was going to swim the next week. Making this decision to chill for a few days really made the difference for me when I decided to move forward.

2. Learn to be Comfortable in the Confusion

Many of the workouts I had leading up to the swim involved me tweaking my stroke and working diligently on the details of my swimming. At times those focused workouts were more tiresome than the ones where I just swam long distances one after the other. However, these are also the times when we must talk less and work more.

Too many times when things get difficult we want to talk about it to anyone who will listen to us. Our teammates, co-workers, family members and friends are all examples of people that we want to complain to or ask them to share in our temporary sorrows. We must remember that the workouts we may be going through are only temporary and that they will eventually lead to better endurance and stronger will power.

We must not let ourselves get so caught up in the moment that we say things we will later regret. In these situations we must not let the water get them best of us. Instead we must simply listen to our coach and swim the distance we're asked, the way we're asked to swim it. In the end it will pay off.

3. You Don't Have to Have a Perfect Score to Be a Champion

During the week before the swim my workouts were more difficult than ever before. I was swimming twice a day for long distances and it was taking up a lot of time to complete the prescribed workouts. Each day grew more difficult, but because of my determination I found a way to complete each one until the last day.

The last day I was extremely tired, my shoulders were sore and I was dealing with a lot of responsibilities in other places of my life with very little sleep. It was at that time that I decided to make a choice. It was at that time I decided to "lose the battle, to win the war". In other words, I didn't finish my last days workout.

Instead I chose to begin the resting and healing process. In my opinion this turned out to be one of the best decisions I made during this experience. Giving up on that last day's workout allowed me to take a step back, not continue to aggravate any other parts of my body or make the ones I had already irritated worse and allowed me to most importantly rest my mind. By the time Monday came and the swim was to begin I was ready to go because I was stronger, I had a plan of attack and my body was ready to go.

4. The Most Important Things in Life are the Things that Only We Can Take Care Of

This lesson is the most important one of all. In order for us to reach our full potential in life we must accept this lesson, embrace this lesson and live by its meaning. We can stunt our growth as people or even hurt those we hold most dear if we don't follow through with this one.

I know that as I trained to swim last week that only I could have completed this task. I don't say that from the perspective that only I could have swam 15,000 yards in a week, what I mean is that only I had put in the effort in practice and training, so only I was prepared to finish the end result.

In life we must also realize that each one of us has our own set of responsibilities. Only we have the individual skill set to meet the need we see. We must take responsibility for our actions and do our best to help those around us and to make a difference in our world, no matter how wide our reach is at the time.

In the end we must be the difference maker, we must be the one to make change happen. If we don't, then we'll eventually lose heart and lose out on what life is truly trying to offer us.