My youngest daughter is learning to swim.
It’s still tricky, because she is not even close to being tall enough to stand with her head above the water. We watch her closely, hovering, and always one of us is close enough to reach her if she gets into trouble.
At the beginning of the summer, she would “swim” from my husband to me. She’d push off his knees and reach out to me, wrapping her arms around my neck.
Within the last two weeks, though, she ‘s learned to swim, really swim. She can cross the pool by herself, in her own stroke, a funny mix of side-stroke and dog paddle, her head tilted backward so her chin is above the water. She doesn’t love goggles so she squints to avoid getting water in her eyes.
Sometimes, instead of making progress forward, she starts to spin in the water, around and around; she’s treading water, staying afloat, but she’s not going anywhere.
Other times, she leans forward, grabbing at the water, pulling herself forward, it seems, by the sheer force of her will.
I watch her, and I admire the look of determination on her face.
When she gets tired, she leans her head back and rests in a sort of backfloat. I say sort backfloat because her tummy and legs are submerged; only her head and shoulders are above the water. By rolling to her back, though, she catches her breath. When she rolls over, she’s ready to swim again, fighting —again— for every inch.
When she reaches her destination, she reaches out her hand to grasp the slippery side of the pool, grinning, triumphant.
I imagine that by summer’s end she will be confident in the water, swimming with sure strokes. I imagine that my vigilance will wane, that I’ll trust her burgeoning skills in the water and let her venture farther and farther away.
I imagine that I may even forget her look of determination.
I want to remember, so I write about it here, because as I watch her I realize that she teaches me how to get where I want to go.
She teaches me that getting where you want to go requires extreme focus (she won’t let me cheer her on, because she says she goes faster when my voice is not distracting her).
She teaches me that it’s okay if you need to rest along the way.
She teaches me that new tasks get easier with practice.
She teaches me that once you decide where you want to go, you can get there, even if it takes every ounce of your energy.
She teaches me that it’s okay to spin in circles as long as you find your way forward again.
She shows me what determination looks like.
Tell me something! What does determination look like for you? What keeps you moving toward your goals?
photo credit melanie lauren ☮
I am the founder/CEO of the Weaving Influence team, the author of Reach: Creating the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause, and the host of the Book Marketing Action Podcast. I’m a wife and mom of three kids, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, coffee, and dark chocolate.
Great post Becky. The principles your daughter teaches ring true throughout every age of life. Some days I feel like I am going to sink but when I make it to the other side. . . oh what a feeling!
I love, love, love this post! My children have taught me so much–and now I’ve learned something from your daughter. Tell her I said thank you.
Determination: It has a much slower pace than I ever imagined. I used to think the faster you moved, the more you accomplished. Not so. It’s like what you learned from your daughter: Getting where you want to go requires extreme focus. As my husband likes to say, “Do the next thing.”
I am making a speech for school and my topic is determination. I was searching the web for some quotes on determination and I came across your article. Although I’m still a kid, your daughter’s effort gave me a huge idea of what determination really means. To not quit when it gets hard, and your mindset will drive you through the path of your choice. It really is amazing what one small thing can do to everything else in your life.
Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you found my post and I’m glad it gave you a clear picture of determination.
Becky. You’re my inspiration.
You help me so much and I continue to growing myself and teaching my kids the same.
Wonderful post. Timeless that’s for sure. Kids can teach us so much, we just need to pause and watch. Thank you for sharing. All the best to you.