No retreat, baby, no surrender. —Bruce Springsteen
Dedicated swimmers are a special breed of athlete. Early mornings in the pre-dawn haze. Tentative trepidation before that initial, icy plunge. Long, lonely hours in the pool. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Growing up, swimming, and the traditions surrounding the sport, dominated our summer routine. As proud Palisades Porpoises in the Montgomery County Swim League, our family would live for Saturday mornings. We would train hard all week. Go to bed early on Friday nights. And pour everything we had into the meets on Saturday. And after working up a hunger in the pool, teams from all over the area would descend upon the nearest Roy Rogers or McDonald’s and feast like kings and queens.
But the best part of the festivities were the rallies and cheers surrounding the meet. Dozens of kids and coaches would scream and chant for victory. Signs and motivational placards littered the poolside. Everyone was united in the spirit of the competition.
And while there were many great swimming slogans, there is one that stuck with me for the rest of my life:
“Charge the Wall!”
It was the perfect reminder to finish strong. Don’t look back. Don’t worry about the other swimmers. Eyes forward. The finish line is in sight. Focus on your goal.
And couldn’t we all benefit by “Charging the Wall” in our own lives.
We Need to Finish Strong
In our work lives, it is easy to lose sight of our goals. Sometimes we can get a little too comfortable and complacent. Or, we can get so busy, we forget why we are working so hard. Or politics, complaints, and apathy can derail us. We have to occasionally step back and assess where we are in the race. We can’t lose sight of the wall!
What are we going to do today to advance the ball? What do we need to overcome so we can focus on the finish line? How much water do we need to move to reach the wall? It will take discipline. It will take perseverance. It will take resilience. But if we break down our race into smaller chunks, we will never lose sight of the wall.
In sales, we might think our wall is the completion of a transaction. But there is so much more that goes into the process. And the ultimate wall is our customer. That is our finish line. Without pouring everything we have into that relationship, we might as well be swimming to the bottom of the pool.
The same is true in any classroom, athletic field, or office. First, we have to establish our goal. Then we have to express a burning a desire to achieve it. Then we have to turn that desire into action and make it happen.
We can’t achieve success by looking back in regret. Or coasting along in our lane. Or comparing ourselves to other people. We have to be single-minded in our pursuit. We can’t win the race without finishing strong. We have to charge the wall!
Effort Fuels Our Desire To Win
But what happens when we charge the wall and lose the race? What happens if we look up at the end of the swim and everyone else is already out of the pool? It can be demoralizing to fall short of our goals. It can be embarrassing to fail in front of a crowd. But we can’t let failure shake our confidence. We can’t let it stop us from getting back up on the block.
We don’t build resiliency by constantly winning. We build it through sustained effort and desire. Sometimes, we will be passionate and still lose. Sometimes, we will exert maximum effort and still come up short. But if we always stay focused and driven, we will develop a consistent desire to win. And that desire will become a winning habit.
Charging the Wall is a Mindset
We can’t control everything in our lives. We might get off to a slow start. People will cut into our swim lane. The water will feel particularly heavy on some days. But we can control our effort. We can control our attitude. We can control our focus. And when we touch the wall, regardless of where we finish, we all need to feel that exhaustion and pride that comes with maximizing our potential.
Charging the wall is a mindset. In our work lives. In our studies. In our athletic endeavors. In our relationships. In our principles. Never apologize for your effort. And never coast into the wall.
Stay focused. Stay relentless. Head down and finish strong.
The race is never over. It’s time to charge the wall!