In 2014, I joined a triathlon team and signed up for a full Ironman triathlon. A 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run, all in a single race Here's the problem, I didn't know how to swim, I hadn't ridden a bike since I was a kid, and the last time I ran I had torn my calf so severely that I was told I'd never be able to run again.
The coach offered to work on my running form with me, and I was willing to try. He also assured me that his spin class was great training for the bike. The part that scared me most was the swim. I didn’t know how to swim, at all, and I didn’t have to just learn how to swim in a pool. I would have to learn to swim 2.4 miles in an open water race environment with hundreds of other swimmers nearby. I didn’t think it was possible.
I Believe in You
My lack of experience or even basic know-how didn't faze the coach. He simply said, I believe in you. I will teach you. Funny how much power is in those four words: “I believe in you.” The next day, I met the coach at the pool, and he began teaching me how to swim. It was incredibly powerful that he said, "I believe in you." It was equally powerful that he said, "I will show you how to do this."
He started by teaching me how to float. Methodically, he then had me add one step at a time - the kick, the reach, the pull, and the breathing. In a matter of days, I could swim a length of the pool. In a matter of weeks, I could swim multiple lengths of the pool. In a matter of months, I could swim 2.4 miles without stopping. He also worked with me on open water swimming, and he even ran drills in which we simulated the start of a race, with everyone swimming over each other.
Learning to swim had very little to do with me. It had everything to do with having confidence that I could learn something because someone said they believed in me, and they offered to show me how. I've since swum multiple 5Ks and multiple Ironman triathlon races.
Talk the Talk, Walk the Talk
Every one of us wears multiple hats and has the potential to influence many circles. We have our families, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, our community activities, and many other social circles over which we can cast our influence.
Too often, it’s easiest to discourage those who are in our inner-most circles. Those are the ones who likely need it most. Our words have power. Imagine if instead of telling your co-worker that this project will fail, you tell them that this project is difficult, but they are exactly the right person to make it successful and that you’ll be by their side to help. Imagine if instead of telling your kids to clean up their pig sty room, you start by encouraging them with a “we can do it, and I’ll help show you how.” Imagine if instead of telling your friends how hard something is, you show them the ropes and tell them that they have what it takes.
The opportunities are there on a daily basis. Each opportunity is a chance for you to positively impact their life by letting them know they have what it takes and by pouring your time, talent, knowledge, and abilities into them.
Think about the power my coach’s words had on my entire life's trajectory. Had he not believed in me, I never would have gone on to become an endurance athlete, I wouldn't have made new friends in the endurance racing circle, and I wouldn't have been able to positively impact others through endurance sports. Had he not believed in me AND shown me how, the spark he ignited likely would have fizzled out with no action. It's the power of his words and his supporting actions that changed my life and positively impacted others.
In the Bible, Proverbs chapter 18 verse 1 says, "Words kill, words give life."
- How have you given others life with your words?
- Where can your power of belief empower others to become the best they can be?
- How can you use your empowering words of belief, plus your action, to shape the destiny of others?