To keep going during these difficult times, remember to float

October 12, 2020 by  
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To keep going during these difficult times, remember to float Chris Gaither Mon, 10/12/2020 – 01:45 A couple of years ago, desperate for fitness and community, I joined the master’s swim program at my local pool. I churned up and down the lanes a few mornings a week, and I grew faster and faster, especially on the sprints. Turns out these big feet of mine, size 13 with fallen arches, propel me beautifully through the water. “What a great kick you have,” my teammates would say. And on the next lap I’d kick even harder, arriving at the wall panting and grinning. My coach moved me into the fast lane, and my ego swelled. But on longer distances, I fell apart. To go faster, I must stop working so hard. To maintain my energy, I must embrace ease. To keep going, I must remember to float. I’d start off well enough, keeping pace with lifelong swimmers such as Susan and Sarah. Then, a few laps in, I’d falter. I’d fall so far behind that I’d have to occasionally pause at the wall, embarrassed, to let the leaders pass me. I’d tell myself to work harder. Get those feet moving. Kick more ferociously. One day, as I again dropped behind, my coach began shouting at me from the deck. I couldn’t hear her over my exertions. She yelled louder. “Chris!” she said. “You are kicking too hard!” After the workout, she explained that a strong kick is effective during sprints, but over-kicking on endurance swims slows us down. Our big leg muscles require a lot of oxygen, so we run out of gas quickly. When you kick more lightly, she said, you maintain your energy. So, you can keep going. To prove her point, she had me practice floating. I lay still, face down, arms extended. I relaxed, felt my muscles soften, a sense of peace settling over me. Then, from that place of ease, I began to swim. It felt so different. My strokes were calmer, more efficient. Instead of fighting the water, I allowed it to support my body then slip past me. I understood what the coach was teaching me: To go faster, I must stop working so hard. To maintain my energy, I must embrace ease. To keep going, I must remember to float. It’s 2020, the year that won’t end, and I suspect that many of you, like me, are trying to kick so hard through this pandemic. Everything feels difficult right now. As I write, we are slogging through our seventh month of sheltering in place. More than 210,000 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus, and it has spread all the way to the White House. Fires continue to ravage the West. Here in Oakland, California, I wake up many mornings to the sight and acrid taste of smoke, visceral reminders of the climate emergency. The poor air quality has kept me off the hiking trails and out of the pool, depriving me, like so many Californians, of the chance to heal our psyches in nature. There is so much to process. So much to do. So much to repair. Earlier in the pandemic, my writing and my work with leaders and their teams buoyed me. I felt a prolonged surge of energy — purpose, focus, a calling to serve others, motivation to create. Those desires feel much fainter now, dim outlines I see through a haze of fatigue, loneliness and sadness. I’ve been trying to muscle through it. Even as I’ve helped my clients notice where they are resisting their current reality, asking them to strip away the non-essential tasks and honoring what they most need right now, I’ve been taking on more responsibilities. I’m kicking so hard in all aspects of my life: as an executive leadership coach, business owner, father, son, romantic partner, friend, citizen, environmentalist, learner, writer. It’s exhausting. I’d been trying to write this latest Sustainable You column for weeks. My intention was to explore the importance of identifying our purpose and letting it shine through in our jobs. Purpose is one of my favorite coaching topics, one I’ve taught in workshops at the Robins Air Force Base and X, the Moonshot Factory, and with individual clients at Apple, Google, Levi Strauss and more. Following my purpose is also what led me to create a coaching practice focused on supporting environmental and social-impact leaders. Yet I just couldn’t get it right. I’d captured pages of notes, blocked off time to write, done Pomodoro timer sessions , unleashed a tangle of thoughts. It just wasn’t coming together, no matter how hard I tried. Then, as I was hiking in redwoods during a break from the smoke, I remembered my swim coach’s instructions. I started asking myself: Where in my life am I trying too hard? Where can I start from a place of ease? Where can I kick more lightly? Where can I float? I started asking myself: Where in my life am I trying too hard? Where can I start from a place of ease? Where can I kick more lightly?   I decided to begin here, with you. I’ll be back next month with that essay about purpose. But for now, I invite you to join me in the water. Wade in and relax. Feel what it’s like to be you, in your body, in this very moment. You don’t need to be strong right now. You don’t need to work so hard. Be still. Let the water hold you. In a few minutes, you will begin swimming again. Set an intention to do that with ease. Whatever you have planned for today, for this week, bring a sense of flow to it. Kick lightly and notice what happens. But for now, let’s stay together for a while. Let’s be here in the water, serene. Let’s float. Pull Quote To go faster, I must stop working so hard. To maintain my energy, I must embrace ease. To keep going, I must remember to float. I started asking myself: Where in my life am I trying too hard? Where can I start from a place of ease? Where can I kick more lightly? Topics Leadership Health & Well-being Featured Column Sustainable You Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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To keep going during these difficult times, remember to float

The case for designing a circular battery

March 5, 2020 by  
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Some batteries designed for transportation applications may have the opportunity to be recovered and reused for another purpose before even reaching the stage of recycling.

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The case for designing a circular battery

Companies from DuPont to Microsoft drive social innovation

January 18, 2018 by  
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Profit with purpose is the new face of business.

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Companies from DuPont to Microsoft drive social innovation

Why Larry Fink isn’t waiting on Washington

January 18, 2018 by  
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Blackrock’s CEO is waging a bold, long-term bet on sustainability with his threat to 1,000 CEOs. Yet there’s more beneath the surface.

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Why Larry Fink isn’t waiting on Washington

The year business steps up on climate action

January 18, 2018 by  
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With the backing of business, governments can move faster on their national climate plans, driving innovation, competitiveness, risk management and growth.

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The year business steps up on climate action

We are all social entrepreneurs

January 13, 2018 by  
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We need to foster people using business for a higher purpose. The good thing is, people don’t need to start or own a business to participate.

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We are all social entrepreneurs

How brands rebuild trust through authentic action

March 31, 2017 by  
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Public trust is at an all-time low, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, but business might be the key to rebuilding faith in the system.

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How brands rebuild trust through authentic action

Pepsi: We expect suppliers to share our values

February 16, 2017 by  
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Farms and production partners must commit to Performance with Purpose ethos by 2025.

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Pepsi: We expect suppliers to share our values

How Coca-Cola is cultivating a collective sense of purpose in Vietnam

January 31, 2017 by  
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Coca-Cola’s EKOCenters are allowing Vietnamese communities to thrive by connecting economic, environmental and social dots.

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How Coca-Cola is cultivating a collective sense of purpose in Vietnam

HP, Philips help supply chains scrub 434 million tons of CO2

January 31, 2017 by  
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The move delivered cost savings of $12.4 billion last year, but CDP warns that more work is needed.

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HP, Philips help supply chains scrub 434 million tons of CO2

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