Personal growth is like that for all of us, filled with excitement, planning, expectation, and yes, fear.”
The other night I brought my 3-year-old daughter, Anna, to her first swimming lesson. We had been looking forward to this since my wife had registered Anna for the lessons two months ago. Too excited to wait for the big day, Anna wore her new swimming suit during her baths several times in the weeks prior, and I made sure in advance that my swimming trunks from last summer still fit.
When I'm excited about something, I like to arrive early, really early. In this case, Anna and I arrived 20 minutes early at a small, heated, indoor pool where the lessons were being given.
“I can't wait,” Anna said over and over, as she giggled and hugged me repeatedly. I pointed out how her swimsuit, with its panels of light- and dark-blue horizontal stripes, matched the pool's light-blue water and dark-blue lane striping. “You're right! It does!” my extroverted, excitable daughter shouted.
Then the instructor and the other children and parents arrived, and it was time to slide into the water. But Anna balked.
“I'm scared. I don't want to go in,” she said.
I was surprised and at a loss, because the last thing I had expected from her was fear. Thankfully, the instructor knew what to do. She asked Anna to pretend that her pointer finger was a toothbrush and that she needed to get the brush wet by dipping it in the pool. Anna responded to the imaginary play immediately and in a few minutes was floating in the pool with my help. The rest of the time was filled with equal parts laughter, blowing of bubbles, kicking, and splashing.
The next morning Anna said: “I had fun at swimming lessons. I can't wait to do it again!”
Personal growth is like that for all of us, filled with excitement, planning, expectation, and, yes, fear. Anna's swimming lesson reminded me of a recent opportunity for personal growth: my introduction to RCMA at the 2001 Annual Conference in Milwaukee.
In the weeks leading up to RCMA, I planned what I was going to bring. Of course, I over-packed. Little did I know my preparations wouldn't matter: My luggage got lost on the flight from Minneapolis to Milwaukee. Flustered, stressed, and focused on finding clothes for the week, I walked from the hotel to the convention center. After weeks of expectation, I wasn't ready to jump in the pool.
Within moments, though, strangers were greeting me, genuinely curious about who I was. Sue Pelletier, my wonderful, tranquil predecessor as RCM editor, told me not to worry: “Your luggage will show up. It always does.” (She was right.)
By the end of the week, after being embraced by the warmth, intelligence, and positive energy of RCMA members, I was like my daughter the other day — splashing in the pool, energized by new people, new ideas, and new ways of moving through life's waters.
It's an honor and a privilege to serve as RCM's editor. I view each article in the magazine as a new swimming lesson — an opportunity for all of us to learn how to improve in our work and ultimately be better servants to others.