Raising boys in Florida where we are surrounded by pools, rivers, lakes, and the ocean, it was paramount to teach our boys how to swim at a young age - especially having a pool in the backyard. But as our boys get older, there is an even more important type of swimming they will need to learn, and in fact, the swimming I’m talking about doesn’t involve water. It involves skills every man (or person) should know.
They’re like each of the strokes swimmers need to use. And if we didn’t learn them from our fathers or mothers, we need to learn them from someone else—somebody you love, trust, and respect. I was fortunate to learn a lot of these from a combination of people from my parents, my grandparents, and various friends, mentors, and family members over the years. But if meeting those influential people is delayed too late in life, that delay may cost a broken marriage, other damaged relationships, and financial hardships. If nobody has taught you yet, then it's never too late. These are the 4 skills every person should know:
1. The Backstroke
Every person must learn to come to grips with his past and learn from his or her past mistakes, hurts, habits, and hang ups. As people, our past may explain us, but it doesn’t excuse us from present and future decisions. It is said that a person who doesn’t learn from his or her past is destined to repeat it. You won’t have to repeat the past if you learn to master the backstroke. This is exactly why we emphasize the importance of the Enneagram - it's a great place to start that journey of understanding your past to help shape your future.
2. The Butterfly Stroke
Every person must learn to find, accept, and live his or her purpose in life. Every person, metaphorically, starts out as a caterpillar, but he or she wasn’t intended to remain a caterpillar, crawling on his or her belly for the rest of his or her life. He or she was expected to transform into a butterfly because he or she was destined and designed to fly, not crawl. But the butterfly stroke doesn’t happen by osmosis; it has to be learned actively.
3. The Breast Stroke
Every person must learn to win the heart of his or her spouse. Many people have found themselves treading water when it comes to this part of life. Whether you become a husband or wife or not, every person must learn not only how to love a man or woman but also to understand the inner workings of his or her heart.
4. The Freestyle Stroke
Every person must learn how to communicate freely with his or her children (or children in general), without fear, shame, or judgment. It’s one skill to master the heart of a man or woman, but it’s another to win the heart of a child. A father or mother must learn how to provide his or her children with a safe place to hurt and a healthy place to heal by getting them to freely share their fears, doubts, and insecurities.
Although most of us don't even start the journey (or understand the importance) of this type of "swimming" until later in life, when we finally start that process we will be so glad we did! It's never too late for these types of swimming lessons. Have a great week!