Swimming With Sharks

Have you considered swimming with sharks? I won’t hold it against you if you thought I have lost it, because of silly questions like that.  Before you exit, what if I were to request you consider that those sharks stand for stuff that you fear? Your fears that interrupt your pathway to success.

Irrespective of whether your answer is yes or no, you must soak up more of the story of Kim Chambers.

Kim Swims

Yes. Kim swims. Except that her pool almost spans the ends of the earth. She has a clutch of records against her name. She is the 1st woman to swim 30 miles from the Farallon Islands to San Francisco. The 3rd woman (6th person ever) to complete the Oceans Seven challenge.  The Oceans seven challenge is a marathon swimming challenge, consisting of seven channel swims! Each being an incredible distance stretching many hours. The Farallon Island swim for instance took her over 17 hours non-stop, in cold water. And that’s just a sample. She has many more accomplishments to her credit.

For all these ocean spanning accomplishments, the start was a simple bad accident that sent her tumbling down a staircase.   An accident, after which she was told that she a 1% chance of walking unassisted again. She was 33. 

She took to swimming because it gave her freedom of movement.  Not as a mere coping mechanism but as a means to strive for the best of what she could be. And the rest of the story, the world is seeing!  

The Audacity To Face Fear

I came across her story as I was researching fear. The question that I was left with was this: “What do we fear?” I mean,  “REALLY” fear?

I asked people about their fears. The recurring themes that came up in their answers, were not what I started out my questions with. It was not, about the future of the planet or the state of the country. Or even state of their own finances and future.  More often than not, it came laced with regret and pain. They stated it in their own words. Especially pronounced with folks in the 40s.

I summarise it thus: “The fear of not living up to what I possibly could be”.  I was curious about what stands in their way of venturing towards their dreams?

“Rocking the steady state”.

“I don’t know what lies ahead”.

“What will other people say?”

“What if I fail?”

“I have a family to run”.

“I have a lot of comforts and habits that I am not sure if I can live without”

 This place requires me to do the numbers every year.

I don’t have the money / position / stamina.. ( etc )

The lady who wouldn’t sit down to pursue her PhD and further reading for it may mean leaving her present job. The young family businessman who feared who would be confined to his tradition bound small business. And many more. 

A corporate titan once told me, ‘unless you face your fear, you are not going to get past it. You have to get used to swimming with sharks. And then you get past them’. That’s how I got to Kim Chambers.

Dark Moments & Bright Moments

I could relate to what the gentleman told me about facing fear. It takes effort. Immense effort. Most of us tend to look away from our dreams when we wear fear and present day habit as our lens.

And as we delved on the topic more, a question that popped up got us into a silent zone.

“If all other things were provided for, what would you like to strive for?”

The smart man the he is, he didn’t ask me what I wanted. He asked me what I wanted to strive for. What did I want to work towards? And as I listed all that I wanted to strive for, the next question came up.

“So, what all stand in the way? Stand in the way of taking your first step”

Without realising, I listed down my fears. I sat with it for a while. I had to leave the safe confines of the vast shore and step into sea and start swimming with sharks. Swimming with my fears, that is.

In Kim Chambers’ words, “…doing something to the core because you are afraid. Afraid of dreaming too big. Afraid of stepping outside your comfort zone, and the risk that it takes to go after that which challenges you… “. (I list the link to her talk below)

When Done Swimming With Sharks

When we are done swimming with sharks and walk the shores, the sharks stay at sea. We walk with a sense of possibility and our impact on ourselves is much beyond description. At least, there is one thing less for sure : The regret of not living upto what we could have been!

Kim Chambers says it well

“They are personal journeys of the self. When I get out of the water, I’m a different person than the one who jumped in.”

When we live our lives to the potential of what we think possible, and not stay limited by our age, experience, salary, health and whatever else, we are swimming with sharks.  At the end of it, we are altering the landscape of who we can be.

So, here’s the question for you again. “If all other things were provided for, what would you like to strive for?”

The OWL Despatch

This is edition 87 of The OWL Despatch. Typically, I put one out every fortnight on interesting reads I picked up.

1. Here is Kim Chambers speaking about “Swimming With Sharks“. Phenomenal, I would think.
2. Have you battled imposter syndrome? Here is a piece you must read. “Imposter syndrome can shake your confidence, but being underqualified for your job may actually give you an advantage over your more confident peers.
3. Language models can change our search engines. Super interesting area to explore.
4. Three rules for middle-age happiness. I am going to leave it there for you to figure out more.
5. Tucked away stories like this one here, tug at my heartstrings. It proves that life can be lived differently. Check this out.

Many thanks to Deepak Arora for the sketch! As always.

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