Why you should swim
Being a fish that swims is to:
- Enjoy life.
- Operate in your natural environment.
- Prosper within your shoal.
- Focus on your strengths (swimming).
- Don’t be overly concerned with your weaknesses (climbing trees).
Here are 5 reasons why you should seek out your bowl, tank, pond, lake or ocean, rather than being pressured into the treetops of doom.
1. You’re bound to enjoy life more
The first and most important part of this article, and life, is enjoyment.
Anyone who has ever glared into the hypnotic tranquillity of a fish tank can probably work out that climbing trees is not a fish’s favourite past time.
I’ve never confirmed this with a fish but I’m pretty sure they enjoy drifting around joyfully in their own little shoals – their natural environment.
So why is it that we find ourselves in environments we dislike, with people we dislike, doing things we dislike?
Why don’t we constantly do things that excite us or, at least, suit us?
Why don’t we wake up every morning feeling like this little fella?
I have granted myself 80 years on this planet – that’s 29,200 days in total.
It may be more, it may be less, but I don’t intend on wasting many of the 18,460 I have left, climbing trees.
Please don’t either.
2. You’re bound to be more successful
This is just a fact of life.
If you are passionate about what you do and you do it consistently, you are bound to become good at it!
Straight out of high school, Joe dropped out of University because it was “pointless” and failed to settle into a full-time job.
His friends convinced him to try stand-up comedy and at 21, after six months preparing and practising, he performed his first stand-up routine at an open mic night in Boston.
Since then he has become one of the best podcast hosts, comedians and sports commentators in the world, amassing an estimated net worth of $25m (2019) from doing the things he enjoys – martial arts, talking and telling jokes.
This is the magic of compounding passion, attention and repeated practice.
As you practice the things you enjoy, you improve; as you improve, your enjoyment increases; as your enjoyment increases, your performances improve; as your performances improve, the more you want to do it, and so on.
It’s a never-ending positive cycle.
Compounding passion, attention and practice eventually leads to certain success; whatever that may mean to you.
Some of you may be interested in things you think you’re lousy at.
If so, watch the movie DEALT, read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biography or consider the story of Ricardo De La Riva, a small 15 year old who enrolled in The Carlson Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in 1980.
The Carlson Gracie Academy was famous for big, powerful, monstrous men who would blast through grappling opponents.
On paper, De La Riva didn’t stand a chance against the colossal “Arrebentação Team,” but, in order to survive, he developed his own unique style, in which he excelled.
Over years of passion, attention and practice De La Riva became a legendary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and one of the most creative BJJ players ever, devising the famous De La Riva guard.
If you are “no good” at what you are passionate about, change your perspective, devise your own system and stick with it.
You will succeed!
Plus, isn’t the definition of success enjoying life anyway?
3. You develop swagger
If you do something well and you know it, you develop a certain confidence that people pick up on.
You become more self-assured and self-aware.
People will gravitate to you more because you have an authenticity and strength of character that is rare to find in modern society.
These are the traits of a leader – someone who knows what they enjoy and what they’re good at, whilst accepting their weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
They lead with their strengths and empower others to lead with theirs.
This sort of self-awareness also makes for more attractive people.
After recently getting back on the dating scene, a friend of mine has been seeing this guy, let’s call him Humpty.
According to my friend, Humpty is perfect on paper – he’s a nice guy, good looking, good job, owns a home, has nice teeth and chews with his mouth closed – but she just can’t seem to desire him. He’s just “one of those guys.”
What I guess she means is that Humpty is an average guy. He plays it safe. He doesn’t go all in with what he’s good at or tells her confidently what he doesn’t like.
He plods along pleasing and seeking approval from everyone.
This isn’t Humpty’s fault, it’s a result of his life experiences.
If, at primary school, Humpty told little Charlotte fancy-pants that he loved her, and all the other kids laughed at him, he learned that this sort of openness is dangerous.
It would be even worse if fancy-pants never spoke to him again!
His brain is protecting his 50,000-year-old self from being banished from the tribe and never being able to reproduce.
Evolution does not happen overnight.
It has taken millions of years for the brain to develop into what it is today and the pace of change in modern life is too quick for it to keep up.
Consequently, some of our survival mechanisms are outdated.
Our brain still thinks that straying from the crowd will result in almost certain death. This may have been the case when we were roaming the African savannas, but it is not true today.
Today you have a choice – take ownership of your strengths and weaknesses to become more self-assured and develop swagger, with the possibility of displeasing people OR live like Humpty, a fish that climbs, swims, runs and jumps, all in an attempt to please others.
4. Your strengths outweigh your weaknesses
Lionel Messi is arguably the best football player to have ever lived, winning more Ballon d’Or’s (6 at time of writing) than anyone else in history.
Yet, due to his body type, his aerial and tackling ability is considered poor when compared to his peers.
So how can the best footballer on the planet be relatively weak in two key footballing skills, tackling and heading, yet still be considered the best?
It’s because when you become exceptional at something, your strengths will quite often pull your weaknesses along.
By weaknesses I mean things you are not so good at, Messi still scores with his head and takes the ball off people, they’re just not considered his key attributes. It’s his speed, dribbling and goal scoring ability that gains him the recognition.
His strengths carry his lesser qualities well enough to make him the best player in the world and yours can too.
5. Pessimism kills
The more I study the mind, body and emotions, the more evidence I seem to find linking pessimism to a higher risk of death, or at least optimism to a longer life.
If you’re interested in this area, start with the studies I have linked below and also listen to Rhonda Patrick’s interview with Pierre Capel who says:
“It is really important to have a positive view on life. There are a lot of studies of people who are optimistic or pessimistic and that really makes a difference statistically in how they cope with diseases, life expectancy [and] the number of days without disease. [These things are] directly related to a positive or negative attitude to life.”
- Study 1 – Pessimism and risk of death from coronary heart disease.
- Study 2 – Optimism, pessimism and mortality.
- Study 3 – Optimists vs Pessimists: Survival rates over a 30-year period.
- Study 4 – Prediction of all-cause mortality using optimism-pessimism scores during a 40-year follow-up period.
Why get caught up doing things you don’t like or worrying about not being able to do something?
Not only will you lead a less enjoyable life, it will statistically shorten your less enjoyable life.
Although I don’t have scientific evidence to back this up, my gut feeling is that doing things you don’t like and being overly pessimistic, worried and concerned, over long periods of time, increases your cortisol (stress) levels which we know impacts on the longevity of your life.
Therefore, start doing the things that you enjoy and take some of Gary Vee’s advice – “triple down on what you’re good at.”
Warning… This video contains swearing.
There are a couple of messages in this video that are worth clarifying:
When Gary says, “you’re not going to be Beyoncé” or “your bone structure is a certain way” so “don’t focus on the incremental,” I believe he is warning people about being unrealistic.
Based on your attributes, you may not be the next replica star but, as mentioned in point 2 above, you don’t need to if you change the game to suit you.
He then goes on to say “there [are] a million ways to do this” – by which I believe he means you don’t need to be the next Beyoncé or Mark Zuckerberg to live a life you love, just find your pond and go swim in it.
How to swim
I hope some of those reasons motivate you to become a fish that swims, rather than climbs trees.
For advice on how to become a fish that swims, go to part 3 of 3 using the button below: