I’m always sure the grass is greener on the other side. The person sitting next to me got the bigger portion. My friend learned about investing, while I didn’t. The girls in high school knew how to get a prom date. People stay happily married. Everyone else knows something I don’t.

This is totally not true, although it often feels that way. Peeling back the onion, the hardest lesson for me was learning everything in its own time. And I am a turtle. Slow and steady. Now I actively work to embrace my turtleness, instead of aspiring to be the gazelle.

It came as no surprise to me – on a particularly gut wrenching day when the leaves were just at peak – when I got to the pool to do laps and clear my head (lesson in action), that the woman in the next lane was gliding speedily past me.

How annoying that she was going so much faster than I was! With my head down, looking at that blue solid line on the pool bottom, I murmured in the water: “This is not a competition, in my own time, not my concern that she’s faster than me.” Acceptance came to me. And then I saw the fins.

The lesson began. How can I use this to build me up, to empower me, to drive my success and what I want to achieve? With three easy steps, I changed my outlook and propelled my workout success. And when I say easy, I mean easy. Try these three steps:

Appreciate Just Showing Up

Laughing out loud underwater, I had to stop my crawl to gasp for air. Fins! Fins propelling her, gliding her faster, making her body long and lean. She had help. Everyone has their own secrets and strengths.

Under the water, we can’t always see how hard someone is pedaling. Especially when they make it look easy. Suddenly, I felt bold, brave and triumphant for just getting into the water. For just showing up without fins.

Talk to Someone, Anyone!

I couldn’t keep my new realization to myself. No phone, no pen, just Peggy, the life guard on duty. On my next lap, I asked Peggy to remember the word “fins.” Upon finishing my laps, still excited by my new awareness, I shared the story. After laughing, she gave me a lesson.

Actually, it turns out fins give you more aerobic boost and help you to burn more fat. When used in sprints, they are an excellent aerobic tool. She instructed me on how to time the sprints for maximum benefits.

What if I hadn’t talked to Peggy that day? Now she is in my corner and continues to give me great advice for just showing up.

Find Your Symbol and Live the Lesson

The fins had a purpose. Peggy knew something I didn’t and was able to teach me. The miracle was that I was happy to learn. This was a surprise for me! Instead of being annoyed, I was amazed.

Working hard to stay in my own lane literally got me what I wanted – to know what another knew, to learn the secret that propels them to their triumphs. Propel, all in the water theme, means to push, force or drive, usually forward. To show me how a symbol is a powerful reminder towards reaching a goal.

What’s Next?

You have to figure out your next step for yourself. Find your own fins. What speaks to you? What will propel you to stay on track to reach your goals?

It may be that ‘hot pink’ sweater or a simple bracelet that you can gaze at that reminds you of what you set out to do. It may be a morning mantra. And when you find it, grip it with all your might. My fins arrived in three days. I haven’t missed a swim workout yet.

Where can you use a metaphorical pair of fins in your life? What do you want to conquer? What do the fins represent to you? Please join the conversation!

Ilene MarcusIlene Marcus, MSW, MPA, is founder of Aligned Workplace. A recognized workplace expert, speaker and author, Marcus mentors business leaders to drive their agenda and build workplaces where success, inspiration, kindness and joy define the culture. Please visit her website at AlignedWorkplace.com.

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