I was chatting over Skype with a friend while watching the 4x100 m medley swimming relay at the Olympics, when something one of the commentators said stumped me. “What’s the ‘fly’leg of the relay?” I typed to my friend.
“The butterfly leg. The four strokes are: Fly, back, breath [sic], free.”
If you follow swimming, you’ll know that we had the order of the strokes mixed up, and that my friend should have probably written “breast.” However, I learned something more than just what the 4x100 medley included. I came away from that conversation with something of a watchword for putting ideas into action: Fly. Back. Breathe. Free.
It’s exciting to hit on a new idea, to chase a sweet deal, or be on the brink of undertaking a new project. We fly high on enthusiasm, hoping to achieve, to make our mark.
And yet, rarely does success go off without a hitch. There are obstacles and challenges along the road to achievement. Around the bend, we may face the grim visage of disaster, rather than triumph. Sometimes we just plain fall, and find that we’re back to where we started, faced with the prospect of beginning again.
The upside of this “leg” is that setbacks or disappointments force us to evaluate all aspects of a decision or project: “How committed am I to this goal? Is it worth the risks, worth the hardship?” If the answer is yes, then buckle up and get back on.
It requires courage to take the first step a second time. It costs to start over. It will probably be painful and unsettling, but—take a soul-deep breath—you can do it! Breathe through it, and begin again—with purposeful determination and with belief in yourself and in the value of bringing your idea to fruition.
“A dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”1 There’s almost no better experience than the liberation of fulfillment, the elation of achieving a long-held dream or a hard-fought-for plan, or the reinforcement of self-worth. And then, there’s the urge to do it all again; to once more take up and fight for an ideal, a dream, a cause. The truth is that we can do anything we set our minds and will to. The truth makes us free.2