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The Deep Dive: A Childhood Lesson on Setting the Right Goals

May 28, 2024
Focus on the Right Goal

When I was about six years old, I took swimming lessons. It was an exciting time, and I had the opportunity to compete in a swim meet. The swim coach gathered all the young swimmers and asked if we knew how to dive. With great pride, I declared that I did know how to dive. My grandfather had spent hours teaching my sister and me how to dive off the end of the dock at the cottage, focusing on proper form and minimizing splashes.

Next, the coach asked if we knew how to do the front crawl. Naturally, I was confident—I had been taking lessons for what felt like forever (a few months in a six-year-old's world). With my skills in place, I was selected to compete in the swim meet for my age group.

The day of the swim meet arrived. I remember the bustling crowd, the spectators in the bleachers, and my mom watching with anticipation at the Olympic-sized pool near our home. As I climbed onto the diving board, I readied myself to execute a flawless dive. I dove beautifully, going deeper than I ever had before. I remember looking up from the depths, marveling at my accomplishment.

Emerging from the water, I was convinced that everyone would be impressed by my deep dive. I then proceeded to execute a perfect front crawl, carefully and slowly making my way to the other end of the pool. To my surprise, I came in last. My deep dive and careful strokes had cost me time. I felt proud of my performance but was puzzled by the swim coach's disappointment. It was then that I realized—I didn’t know the swim meet was a race.

The goal wasn't to be perfect; it was to go fast and win.

I laugh about it now, reflecting on how all the adults knew what a swim meet meant. I was oblivious. Fast forward to when I was 14, I competed again and excelled in long-distance swimming. I perfected the racing dive and enjoyed competing throughout that summer.

I'm sharing this story with you today because, as entrepreneurs, we're often asked if we know how to do something. We take action towards our goals but sometimes discover we're not doing it in the most effective way to achieve those goals.

Think of my first swim meet as an example. I believed I knew what I needed to do and how to do it. But I didn’t understand the true purpose behind the actions. No one had told me that a swim meet was a race. I thought I was meeting expectations by showing off my diving and swimming skills.

Had I known it was a race, my approach would have been different. I would have focused on speed, ensuring my dive was shallow to quickly get to the other end of the pool.

How does this relate to entrepreneurship? When considering the actions you take every day, ask yourself: are you diving in too deep or executing a shallow dive? Are you fixated on demonstrating perfect technique, or are you focused on achieving your goals efficiently?

Understanding the "why" behind your actions is crucial. Ensure you are not just doing things right but also doing the right things to reach your goals. Keep your eyes on the prize and tailor your actions to achieve it, rather than merely showcasing your skills.

Let’s connect to discuss your needs and explore whether we're a good fit. No pressure, just great conversation.

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