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Waves

2 Sep

When I was a child our family spent several weeks one summer on an island off the coast of North Carolina.  The beach was beautiful, and I would play in the surf but only up to my knees.  I was afraid of the waves and watched the water very carefully.  When the tide came in the waves would get quite large and one day my sister and I were playing in the sand too close to the water, and a wave washed over us and dragged us away from the shore.  We didn’t go far and our father grabbed us and pulled us back.  I was quite terrified, certain we were going to die, and seeing my distress, after that day he began to teach me about the waves.  He told me they were safe but I needed to learn how to manage them.  He took me into the water when the waves were small and taught me that if I planned for them, I would be fine.  Each day we went into the water and as the waves got bigger and bigger, and I got scared, my father encouraged me to be confident and told me I could manage whatever came.  Day by day my confidence grew as I learned about the water, and before long I was body surfing and hoping for bigger and bigger waves.

When we are facing new things we may feel unsure.  Because we haven’t managed the parameters of the new situation before, it may be daunting or even frightening.  We may lack confidence in our ability to do it.  When we’re facing new processes or experiences we’re sometimes hesitant going forward.  But we can prepare by taking small steps.  If we put our feet in just a little, and try doing a small part first and get comfortable, we can then move forward.   It’s like conquering the small waves.  If we take it step by step we will gain confidence and manage the project, whatever it is.

A man I know called me once some time ago expressing his concern over an assignment to teach a course.  He was convinced he couldn’t do it, and sure he would faint or be struck dumb in front of the participants.  He was well educated and generally interacted with others quite easily but he was terrified about being the center of attention.  We talked about it and he decided to practice with friends before the event.  He had several practice sessions, each going more easily than the previous one, and when it was time for his presentation he did well.  He conquered the small waves over and over and when the big wave came he was ready.  Success is often just about preparation.  We can do anything if we have the courage to face it and the will to conquer it.

Today if you’re facing something new that is giving you pause, and if you are uncertain about going forward, take one small step toward the goal.  Do one small thing to start the learning process and conquer that.  Tomorrow do another and keep moving forward until you feel confident and sure.  You can do anything you want.  You can learn and you can grow.  Take it one small wave at a time and soon you’ll be in the front of the line showing others how it’s done.

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