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Taking the plunge in business – and what you can learn from open water swimming

Patrick Smith is an open water swimmer and entrepreneur. In this guest post he draws parallels between sport and business and what open water swimming can teach us about starting up a new enterprise.
Readers of H2Open Magazine know the value of swimming and in particular the value of swimming outside of the constraints of a swimming pool. But not only is it a great hobby and pastime, there are also important lessons that can be applied from open water swimming to the rest of life.
To me, some of the biggest lessons can be applied to business and especially for people running their own business. Both open water swimming and running your own business, while growing in popularity, are outside of the norm. They both require a degree of bravery to set off and, if you will excuse the pun, take the plunge.
However, that pun is a clear example of the link between the two activities. Much of the language of business can be applied to open water swimming and vice versa.
If you are thinking of starting your own business, what lessons can you apply from open water swimming?
I recently swam in the BLDSA’s Wykeham Lakes event near Scarborough. I’d not swum at this event previously so it was all a new experience for me.
As usual friends and colleagues thought I was mad. This was based on a mixture of genuine concern along with an awareness that they could never do the same. But, having done my research, I went ahead with my plan anyway. I knew plenty of other people did it, I was aware of the safety procedures and I knew that I’d done my training.
Getting into the water literally took my breath away – but then I realised tht it was only cold water shock and nothing I couldn’t cope with, so after a few minutes of acclimatisation I was ready to go.
The start was a frenzy of activity and I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. I just had to relax and go with the flow. But shortly the waters cleared and I could see the course, plot my route and concentrate on my own swim. A few people swam past me, but towards the end I got stronger and overtook a few others. In fact by the end I felt strong and relaxed and it was almost a shame to get out.
So how does this apply to business? Well, the lessons are the same.
1 – You don’t have to listen to the people around you, even though they mean well.
2 – It will be cold and uncomfortable to start with, be prepared for that, but don’t let it put you off.
3 – There will be a frenzy of activity to start with that is likely to feel overwhelming. Relax.
4 – The waters will eventually clear and you’ll be able to see where you need to go.
5 – If you keep going long enough it WILL feel easier.
And of course, if you do start your own business then open water swimming is the perfect way to relieve stress and spend some precious time by yourself.
See more about Patrick here.

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Outdoor Swimmer is the magazine for outdoor swimmers by outdoor swimmers. We write about fabulous wild swimming locations, amazing swim challenges, swim training advice and swimming gear reviews.