Wednesday, November 20, 2013

You Are Going to Get Wet...

If you grew up in the Great Lakes State, chances are at one point or another you took swimming lessons. In my case, I've been involved in the process of learning to swim twice in my life - first as a youngster and then later in life as a parent.  As a child, I can remember my dad taking me for my first lessons at the local YMCA pool. While I was never fearful of the water, sometime during my development from a Polliwog to a Guppy to a Minnow I do vividly recall feeling like a sinking rock when I first jumped off the diving board in the deep end of the pool at Bentley HS. Many years later, my wife and I enrolled our own kids in swim lessons here at the Rec Center. Fortunately, they were not fearful of the water either, but both struggled at times to learn new water skills such as laying on their backs or putting their faces in the water for the first time.

Obviously my perspective as a child was much different than it was as a parent. As a child, I was intent on keeping my head above the water and learning new skills, and I placed an enormous amount of trust in my dad to provide support and encouragement. As a parent, I had no concern about my ability to keep my head above water and I knew my wife and I would support and encourage our kids. The instructor's role was and is to provide the information and expertise necessary for all parties to be successful. However, I am keenly aware that in both situations, everyone involved in the process gets wet! The kids get wet. The parents who are there to provide support and encouragement get wet and even the instructor, the expert with all the information gets wet in the process. For most if not all, learning to swim is an experiential process. No amount of reading, studying, talking, watching videos, etc. can replace time spent in the water.

I think about this process when I see a new concept or idea struggling to get off the ground. The natural inclination is often to read, study and discuss an issue from all angles before taking action. Said another way, there is an effort to create the ability to swim before ever hitting the water. However, implementing a new idea or concept is much like learning to swim - the participants must understand the need and be willing to learn, people need to provide support and encouragement and instructors and experts need to be present to provide the information and guidance necessary for success. And, perhaps most importantly, everyone involved needs to be willing to get wet!

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