To Walk on Water You need first to get out of the Boat

Rowden March 2020

The boat is a safe place, but there’s more to life than sitting and being safe. We are made for something more than just avoiding failure.

If a one year old falls when taking the first faltering steps is the initial thought – ‘I’d better stop trying this and just crawl for the rest of my life!’ or ‘Everyone’s laughing at me because I’m a failure, I need to give up now!’
Actually the young child keeps on working at the walking till success is achieved. It’s only as we get older that we start to fear to take risks. What many of us don’t seem to understand or overlook is that the perception of and response to failure has an enormous effect on our lives; much more than our intelligence, our looks or our status in society. Top performers on the other hand are universally stubborn, enthusiastic and persistent in the face of setbacks. They understand that there is no growth without meeting failure head on and defeating it. You learn from defeat.
Another aspect of behaviour is the understanding that much depends on what you feed your mind and how you think. Having confidence or fear depends on the thoughts that habitually occupy our minds. The way you think creates your attitudes, governs your behaviour, even influences your immune system and vulnerability to illness.
The mind thinks most about what it’s exposed to. What habitually enters and occupies your mind, eventually shapes it and what you do and become; the events you go to, the people you associate with, what you read, what you hear, the images you see, the conversations you have – all these shape you.
The vital question is of course – ‘Why for some is failure energising but for others paralysing?’
What we have to bear in mind is that humans arrive on the planet not as a finished product. They have an invisible notice round the neck that reads – ‘Some assembly required!’
When reality sets in and obstacles confront you, the one quality that is required is resilience– you can be a passive victim or reassert some command and control over your destiny and focus on whatever possibilities remain for some measure of control.
Quitting is always easier than enduring but leads to a pattern of giving up: a pattern which leads to dying a little more inside each time you give in. Fear destroys joy, giving in is a joy killer. Living in a fear-filled perspective robs you of life now and in the future. A major theme that characterises resilient persons is their surprising exercise of control in a stress-filled environment. In prisoner of war camps those who lapsed into a state of passive acceptance were least likely to survive and recover; those who focussed on whatever possibilities remained for some measure of control survived.
We all have gifts or talents and the choice of whether to use them or not. Yours is the choice of safety or growth. However there is no tragedy greater than that of an unused talent. There is a cost, both in life and in sport, to staying in the boat and not daring to get the feet wet!