Which is harder, treading water for ten minutes, or swimming in a direction of your choice for ten minutes?
Have you ever tried to tread water for ten minutes? How about five minutes? It’s definitely easier to swim in a direction of your choice…and you get the added benefit of going somewhere.
I’ve had an opportunity to meet and work with a lot of people during my career. Many have had twenty, even thirty-plus, years of experience in their fields. Unfortunately, some of them have spent that time treading water in the status quo. Turns out they don’t have twenty (or thirty) years of experience. They really have twenty (or thirty) one-year experiences. Their experiences haven’t taken them, or their organization anywhere. It takes huge effort to tread water, and yet that is exactly what some choose to do in their misguided quest for job security, a feeling of control, or an overwhelming desire to avoid risk.
Leaders are usually the ones who choose to swim. They’re the ones who know there are risks, and understand they can’t control everything. They realize that real career security (which is much more valuable than job security) comes from constantly building on past experience and moving themselves and their organization in new directions.
Take a look at your relationships, your career, your hobbies, and pretty much anything you deem important. If you’re treading water, maybe it’s time to start swimming.