No, I’m not talking about the movie. I am referring to my “polar bear” dip in the video above. I was at a weekend intensive training class being held at a retreat house on Long Island Sound in Connecticut. The air temperature was about 50 degrees and the water was colder.
This class was a second level training for teachers of Kundalini Yoga on Stress & Vitality. My core business is as a leadership coach and consultant. My lifestyle is as a yogi and I also teach yoga and meditation. I incorporate these teachings into my coaching and consulting practice as appropriate to help leaders be more present, aligned within themselves, intuitive, clear thinking and confident.
On this particular weekend we were all laughing when we arrived as the organizers in their logistics note said, “bring your bathing suit if you want to take a dip in the pool.” It was cold, rainy and just plain raw outside. Really?
I asked “who wants to go for a swim?” Only one person, my colleague Greg Barringer, said sure. This was on Friday. I tested the water on Saturday and thought, “Oh, It’s mighty cold. But something tells me I have to do it…. But not just yet. Maybe it will warm up Sunday.”
While it wasn’t raining Sunday, it still was pretty cold outside. At our lunch break I said to Greg, “are you really game?” “Sure, let’s do it.” His strategy was, we don’t test the water first, we just dive in. I agreed. We counted together and you see what happened.
We were in complete sync on the count and on the dive, almost as if we had rehearsed it. I didn’t stay under water for the full length of the pool, the way I normally would have as I was so shocked at the frigid temperature. It certainly got me expressive on impact – what a switch from how I stood at the edge holding my body in a contracted fashion anticipating the cold. Once submerged, I was wide-awake, completely open and invigorated – re-energized and focused for the rest of the day.
Ironically this dip took place while we were learning tools to better manage stress so we can be more vital. There is a fine line between stress and vitality. Stress results as a real or perceived threat. Yet if we are to grow we need to be uncomfortable. What is the fine line between feeling vital – full of life – and stressed or stretched beyond this alive feeling? This requires a dynamic dance or recalibration, sometimes moment-to-moment.
This was a physical exercise but has so many analogies for leadership and running a business. Some insights and observations:
- How often do we not go for something for fear of how we might be harmed, exposed or not get the results we want? Once I interviewed for a job and my potential manager said, “we only take on projects where we know we will be successful.” He was leading a change agent function. I asked, “What is the balance point of ensuring success and truly shaking the status quo in the name of necessary, hard change?”
- Being at your edge makes you feel more alive – and live more vitally.
- It’s helpful to go for something and really extend yourself when you have a partner risking and doing it with you.
- Sometimes just taking some kind of action and going for it all out is what we need to do to re-orient, re-energize ourselves.
- Being in sync requires a full out commitment and focus in the moment.
- Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.
- Get the benefits as soon as you can.
- Getting out and doing something versus thinking about it moves you to a different place – and then you can readjust how you need to once you are in the experience of it. Sometimes good enough, is good enough, especially in entrepreneurial environments.
What are you some of your insights?
Where are you holding back?
What supports do you need to really be at your edge of growth or performance?
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Susan is an executive coach and leadership & organization effectiveness consultant. She also teaches yoga and meditation – tools to keep one sane in insane times. She helps professionals step up to their fullest leadership and growth potential. At times this means overcoming their greatest fears or trauma and getting out of their own way to get important stuff accomplished. Please contact her for a complimentary strategy session. www.sagelead.com.