Lessons from Diving – Being Good isn’t Good Enough
How do you translate a diving world record into your real life ? A good question and one I have spent a decade answering. The more I look for the connections, the more connections I find because it isn’t really about the ‘what’ (diving is not something everyone will want to do or relate to ), it is about the ‘who’.
Diving is a merely a skill, a skill I happened to be good at – being great however took something more.
Having a skill isn’t good enough
For most of us success is about getting really good at what we do. We work on being the best, doing courses, having that perfect cv. So it comes as a surprise when we get there and then don’t get the success we expected. I know it surprised me. There I was after spending almost a decade perfecting my diving skills and I was going nowhere. I knew I could dive but I had not managed to get past 142 meters..
So what was missing ?
I spent two years trying to find that answer until in a moment of pure despair I gave up and let go of all the things I thought I needed. I had been waiting for fellow diver Nuno Gomes to ‘forgive me my ambitions’ and let me back into his world record team and then help me get deeper. I spend two years waiting for this to happen before I realised that it wouldn’t and that if I was going to get deeper it would have to be on my own. That was the ‘aha’ moment for me. Until then I had the skills but not the behaviour or attitude.
Attitude is what makes skills work for you. To get deeper I needed courage and confidence which is why I thought I needed Nuno – he had all of that. With him on board I would not have someone to share ownership of the risk, someone to check I had it right and yes, someone to blame if it went wrong cos it wouldn’t be me (important that, how you accept or avoid failure). This desire to be a stronger me was a strong motivator for becoming deepest. Yes it was about the challenge, but it was also about proving something to myself and becoming someone else – for me being a deep explorer meant having confidence and courage.
Turns out, I had it the wrong way round – before I could even get tp ‘there’ I had to live like I was there. Getting deep needed skills and attitude, it needed courage and self confidence and practicing that when it wasn’t part of my natural repertoire felt uncomfortable. It felt like a lie, after all you are who you are and there is no changing that right ? Wrong. Turns out attitude is a skill that can be learnt like any other. I never needed someone else to hold my hand after all.
It is that moment that I have taken into my real life – that moment where I was able to fit who I am to what I wanted to do, rather than let who I am stop me. That is the moment that has empowered me, learning that who I am is a choice like any other and so can change and grow. I can let go of behaviours that hinder, I can practice behaviours that aren’t part of my current definition of me and so become who I need to be.
I like being good at what I do and get very frustrated when that does not give me the result I am expecting. Now I don’t spend years stuck in the frustration. Instead I ask myself how who I need to be that I am not ?
I ask myself how I am presenting my skill to the world and how it could be ?
I love the idea that who I am is a skill just like any other. It is empowering and freeing. When who I am is a choice I can be or do anything. When who I am is a choice I am limitless.
Diving gave me two skills I was missing – courage and self confidence and then it gave me the ability to create that and anything else I need. So next time you find that being good enough isn’t enough, ask yourself if you have aligned your attitude to your skills.
What you need to know
- Behaviour is a skill like any other, and new behaviours are created through practice like any other skill
- Who you are is a choice, you can change it at any time
- Skills will only take you so far, to get further you need the right attitude.
- So you are good at what you do, so what ? How are you using your skills ?
- What attitude do people who are where you want to be have that you don’t ? Who are they being that you are not ?
- What do you need to let go of to get where you want to be ?
- Is who you are really set in stone, something you were borne into ?
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