Treading Water

At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think, with deep gratitude, of those who have lighted the flame within us.
– Albert Schweitzer

Treading water is what a swimmer does in a vertical position to keep his/her head above the surface of the water. Sometimes, a client will reach out to me because he/she has been treading water (metaphorically speaking), and often, has transitioned to “gulping” water. Things can and do happen in life, and in business, that will cause us to plunge into deep, dark waters.  Some of them are out of our control, while others are self-inflicted.

Many well-intentioned people, including younger and/or inexperienced coaches, will dispense council right out of the gate. This strategy is destined to make matters worse. We must allow someone to reveal what he/she is experiencing, and actively LISTEN! Initially, the only time we should be speaking is to ask relevant questions.

Once we really understand the struggle, we must be entirely transparent and authentic and disclose a time when we were gulping water. I habitually reveal that while I might not fully understand what someone is facing, I do understand that he/she is suffering, which is something that I know well. And typically, someone will want to tackle the challenges all at once. Some crises notwithstanding, I have discovered that the very best topic for discussion is to ask what is the next best, the next right thing to do?

Lastly, and most importantly, assure someone who is drowning that he/she is not alone, that you are there to support them, and offer perspective. And, that it is extremely important to reach out to you, while treading water, not gulping it!

I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to many people who have been there to rescue me when I was drowning – to provide me with the spark that I desperately needed. I will never forget The Grace that was offered to me, without hesitation, and with no expectation of receiving anything in return.

Am I willing to take the time to rekindle the spark in someone else who is barely treading water?

© John G. 2021

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