In school, I was an awesome long-distance runner.
I was a shit sprinter.
However, as an adult, except for my adventure training Wing Chun kung fu, I’ve approached most big projects like a sprinter – with a short-term mindset.
This demonstrates a distinct lack of self-awareness.
As I’m looking to encourage more patience and less procrastination into my day-to-day living, I need to balance a long-term mindset (like a long-distance runner) with my affinity for jumping in the deep end.
What does jumping in the deep end mean?
It’s pretty straight forward.
Little kids have two options when learning to swim:
- They can slowly dip their toe in the shallow end of the pool – inch by inch, they can enter the water until they are completely submerged, then start to try lifting their feet off the bottom of the pool; or
- They can walk down the deeper end of the pool, where their feet won’t be able to reach the bottom, then just jump in and see what happens.
Jumping in the deep end is a metaphor for any new activity.
It implies a liking for hands-on learning.
On the other hand, if you prefer to learn about and/or read everything you can on a topic before you begin, that’s like dipping your toe in the shallow end.
Think of playing board games. Some children read the rules completely before starting. Others just want to start playing and pick up the rules as the game progresses.
Both approaches have pros & cons. Just depends on the person.
But it’s easy to understand how jumping in the deep end, or hands-on learning, has a flavor of impatience to it.
More like short-term thinking.
I recently came across a suggestion from Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, to imagine that your 80 year-old self is looking back on your life and, in particular your current self.
- What would this old person want you to do right now?
- What would this old person want to have happened?
- What would it liked to have created?
- Who would it like to be around and have spent time with?
- What regrets is it happy not to be experiencing?
When you try to answer these questions, the importance of taking risks becomes apparent.
But trying something, haphazardly (jumping in the deep end), without then persisting, is also a possible regret.
For that, patience – and an eye for the long-term – is needed.