Life Lessons from a World Record – How to create a bridge from ‘here’ to ‘there’
What I love most about my world record is the lessons entangled up in the diving. Don’t get me wrong, I could talk for hours about the challenge inherent in diving deeper than mostly everyone. The fun part (and yes, the scary part) is working out how to create a bridge from here to there. The thing about a world record is that it is completely useless until you unlock these lessons because until you do, the only place where you are able to live limitless is diving and let’s face it, what we all want is to be able to live without limits in a life where dreams are ordinary.
Which brings me to the life lessons part. One of my favourites is the ‘how – how do you go about creating an audacious dream ? Because whilst not everyone wants to become the deepest diver in the world, we all have dreams and the thing about dreams is that, to the dreamer, they are always intimidating and require moving from the comfortable familiarly of here to an often vague there with a whole lot of unknown steps in between.
So how do you create a path from here to there ? The first step is knowing where there is. Thanks to copious exposure to goal setting and visualisation most of us are able to define our ‘there’, which is about the time when we get stuck because we cannot see a clear way forward. Somehow we have been led to believe that before you can start you have to know exactly how to get there, and as we have never been there before, we never get started.
I know this because it is a place I spent a lot of time at. It took me forever to get from 75 meters to 121 and then, everything just stopped. I had been isolated from my usual diving crowd so was pretty much on my own, with meant I had no clear access to Nuno Gomes. For those of you who do not dive, Nuno is the deepest man in the world and also the man with the most dives sub 280 meters. He was also the man who taught me diving and the main reason why I ever thought becoming the deepest woman would be possible. It seemed an easy task when I had him on board, after all he had the answers, he had been there before. Without him the journey seemed almost impossible and infinitely dangerous – in deep diving not knowing often means dying and dying was not what I was signing up for.
If you have ever contemplated doing something totally new and different you will be able to relate to the worry that comes with that decision. I was worried that I did not know enough to be able to create dive plans that would get me out of the water. What would happen if something new appeared at 140 meters ? There is not much time to solve problems deep in a cave, would I be able to ? Would I even know what to do ? What if I did not have the skills ? What if I did not have enough equipment ? What was it I did not know ? How could I learn it without actually going there ? Following exactly what Nuno had done was one strategy but I also knew that would not really work as I wasn’t diving in the same place he did which meant I would have to derive the basic principles out of his dives and then reapply them to my site taking into account its unique features (for the divers reading that would be a 3 minute swim at 110 meters, something every deep diver declares to be impossible). I was also not physically Nuno Gomes which meant I had to change my equipment configuration which then impacted on the dive plan. Everything seemed to be connected to everything else. Could I really dive without the huge cylinders Nuno’s diving declared to be vital ? What would happen if I changed that ? Was being female going to make a difference to the physiology I was using to base my decisions on ? What did I need to know to get the extra 60 meters deeper? How did the depth change what I knew ? What skills did I need to add ? With no-one to copy I finally realised the only way to get my answers was to go diving… and then it took another year or so to find the courage to get in the water and risk everything finding out.
What did I learn ? That there is always something you do not know, the trick is to trust and use what you do know to create a safe way of learning the rest.
I learnt that you seldom know exactly how to reach where you want to be and that is ok! In fact, not knowing how is what it is all about – that is the fun part. Learning is about trying and trying means that sometimes you don’t get the result you were aiming for. The world calls that failure, I call that finding the essential facts that I need.
I learnt the freedom of letting go of the outcome and just existing in the moment and trusting that I would get there and if not there, trusting that I would get somewhere as good if not better.
Practically, I learnt that getting there is a series of steps and that invariably the only step that is clear and obvious is the next one. I also learnt that sometimes the next step is not that clear and that when faced with options that all look alike, to pick the one that moved me closer, even if closer was sometimes nothing more than a feeling. The thing was to pick one and then use that experience to pick the next one – you don’t get deeper if you sit looking at options wondering.
I learnt to always keep moving and to use my goal to target that movement in the direction I wanted to go. I also learnt that it is ok to adjust my goal based on what I was learning. In fact, the more you learn the easier it to see what is possible which means your goal will grow as you grow, but first you have to get moving. When I look back at my non-diving life I can see this principle in motion. I started off learning biology with the idea of becoming a marine biologist. Varsity introduced me to diving (which opened up the world record door). My honours degree also taught me how to think for myself and solve problems which was exactly what I needed when I started working in IT as a computer programmer. That led to defining requirements and then solutions to those requirement which created a passion for problem solving and analysis and taught me how to write (even if it was corporate speak). My diving gave me something to write about. My career got me interested in how people work and what successful people look like and act like…which got me into consciousness coaching, which took me back to writing…about my diving. No way I could have told you even ten years ago that I would be here in this moment…who knows where I will be in ten years ?
Like I said, I love my diving experience because everything I have ever needed to know about my real life is there, wrapped up in diving. My question to you is this, what is your next step ? Stop thinking about that end goal, just focus on what you would need to do now to get you closer and then keep on edging ever closer. If you do just that one thing,, then one day your next step is certain to be you own world record moment.