I trained for my first open water swim in a swimming pool. That was my first mistake. Not practicing with a wet suit was my second. I’m not a fast swimmer, but I’ve got endurance by the boatload, so I wasn’t worried about making the 4.4 mile trek across the Chesapeake Bay. Well at least not until I got in the water anyway.
I’d heard about the violence associated with beach starts in open water swims and I was ready to endure a foot to the head or an elbow to the waist, but that wasn’t what happened. Instead, as my wet suit filled with water, all the blood in my body felt like I was draining out. I was dizzy and I couldn’t catch my breath. I started to hyperventilate and wondered if I was going to pass out in the middle of the bay with everyone watching. My vision got tunneled and my throat closed. 4.4 miles seemed like a swim from Cuba to Florida. I had no idea how I’d make it. Worst of all, after a lifetime in the water, I completely forgot how to swim. I just blanked.
Right at that moment, one of the rescue kayakers paddled up next to me and said, “We’re gonna pull you out now.”
My mind raced. I had been preparing for this swim for a year and I hadn’t even made it 100 yards past the start. How was I going to tell everyone I failed? I had to find a way to stay in the water and start swimming.
Just then, a second rescue kayaker pulled up and asked how I was doing.
“I’m okay,” I said. “Just catching my breath. Wasn’t expecting the water to be so cold.”
“Sing the theme from Rocky,” he said.
“The theme from Rocky. Sing it.”
And there was the familiar beat in my head. ‘Bam! Bam Bam Bam! Bam bam bam! Bambam bam!’
As I heard the music in my head, my arms remembered how to swim. I sang that one song for the next 3 hours and I made my way across the bay. I was the LAST person in my wave to finish, but I finished. And I felt great.
And here’s the thing, without that kayaker, without that song, I wouldn’t have made it. I was seconds from being pulled onto a rescue boat.
Okay, so you know I’m thinking about this because of the amazing Diana Nyad. And no, I’m not going to drag you through another post on how you should believe in your dreams, never give up, and keep trying. Blah blah blah. I mean, I’m totally inspired but not many of us are made out of Diana Nyad-grade steel.
I have been thinking about the hundreds of modifications she made between her first try and her recent success. All the attempts and all the adjustments were exactly what she needed to reach this goal, and that’s great for her. But the only adjustment I needed for my little 4 mile trek across the bay was to “Sing the theme from Rocky!” That was it! Such a tiny little tweak.
Maybe you are thinking to get your book done or to reach some other goal, you need a Diana Nyad level-of-effort. And who knows, maybe you do. But maybe, just maybe, you just need a little push – like my guy in the kayak shouting, “Sing the theme from Rocky!”
Isn’t it worth it to jump in the water and find out if that’s all it will take?
My Coaches Book Circle is perfect for that. It’s on sale for another couple weeks for just $27/month (that’s 65% off the regular price). When you are in the Coaches Book Circle you are surrounding yourself with helpful kayakers filled with simple suggestions that will help you get across the finish line of writing your book.
Writing a book does not have to be a Herculean effort. It’s not going to be easy, but it is very possible and it doesn’t have to be painful.
When I stepped out of the water, my legs were shaking and Eye of the Tiger was still on loop in my head. I crossed the mat and saw my time. It was ridiculously slow but I had finished, and sitting on a beach towel right at the finish line was my little kayaker guy.
“You made it!” he said smiling and getting up to give me a hug. “Did singing help?”
“Thanks,” I said, connecting who he was in my post-race haze. “It did.”
Such a simple exchange, and yet it meant so much. Maybe that’s how you’ll feel when you hold your book in your hands for the first time and think of the day you joined the Coaches Book Circle.
“Did it help?” I’ll be asking.
And you’ll look down at your name on your book and you’ll think… “Thanks. It did.”