I am a firm believer in individual success. Each person is on an individual continuum and we each find success relevant to where we are at along that continuum.
Thanks to my daughter’s swim meet, I had the pleasure of witnessing this belief in action this morning. I watched as my belief was reinforced time and again as competitors found their own successes. This swim meet could have been a model for the vision that many have of our education system. Each event was divided into heats that were created based on the swimmers’ previous times. Regardless of age or gender, they competed relative to their own development. Not one child seemed to notice the age of the other competitors in their heats, they simply wanted to go out and put in their best performance.
A perfect example of finding personal success came from a young boy who might have been 6 years old. He was swimming in the 25m freestyle. One length. The competitors in this heat were all relative beginners. When the starter said “Go” there were variations of diving and jumping into the water and then the boy in lane 2 turned his back on the lane and lowered himself into the water. Pushing off the wall he was already a good 5 metres behind the competition. He started with his version of a front crawl. By the time he was half-way through his race the others were finishing. Two-thirds of the way through, his crawl had turned into a solid “dog paddle” and he kept going. Nearing the finish and the shallow end of the pool, he bobbed up and down. He would drop slightly beneath the water, touch the bottom of the pool, push off and his head would reappear above the surface. He surged like this for the last 5 metres or so. Each time that he would drop under the water, I honestly wondered whether he would make it back to the surface or if one of us would need to jump in and rescue him. As I had these concerns, he kept going, you might have thought that the cheering and encouragement of the crowd was inching him closer to the finish. When he finally touched the wall, it didn’t matter how far behind the others that he was, nor did it matter that he appeared so exhausted that he really did swim those last few metres for his life. The smile on his little face told the story. He had just achieved his Gold medal, his “A”, his “exceeds expectations” on his personal rubric.
For every heat in this swim meet there was a story that matched this one. Some told stories of personal setbacks, those failures that are necessary to help us improve and learn, while others showed those moments of personal successes. Regardless, every moment was a moment where those children defined themselves on their personal continuums. Being there to witness this has made me reflect on where I am at with my growth, I hope that in sharing this with you, that you can do the same.