The wisdom of swim teams

Watching my kids' swim meet this past week, I couldn't help but wish that as adults, we approached life and the struggles we face like the 6 and under league. At a swim meet, there are the kids who are seemingly born to live in the water and can complete their cursory 25 meter lap in no time flat. And then there are the others who struggle, looking like they are half-drowning, who barely complete the race.

The remarkable thing is how the crowd responds. Everyone marvels at the naturals, whispering about Olympic hopes and at a minimum, college scholarships. But it's the kids who struggle...REALLY just finish the lap, who get the standing ovations. And rightfully so; do you know how much more effort it takes to swim THAT badly?!

What if we treated our adult-selves with a little dose of that enthusiasm and support. Instead of shying away from the things that are hard and don't come naturally, we'd embrace the struggle and recognize and reward the courage and tenacity it takes to do things that, well, we kind of suck at.

If you are a parent or a people manager (two activities which I can say from experience are remarkably similar), do yourself a favor and check our Carol Dweck's Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The title makes it sound like an airport gift shop "business optimization" snoozer, but in fact it's one of the more interesting reads about human psychology I've come across, and it's been highly influential in how I talk with my kids and my team members at work about facing and embracing challenge.

Of course, unless I want to be a compete hypocrite, this means I will have to face my own fears. Learn to use Excel. Take a statistics course. And agree to let my husband clean my clock in a game of Scrabble.