Getting in the swim

Don't you think swimming is a bit like life? 

Well, I thought so this morning, as I swam up and down. You see lots of different kinds of swimmers; those who just dive in, look fantastic in Lycra and swim effortlessly up and down for a hundred lengths as if they'd been born to it.

Then you get those who make a great splash, all over everybody else and you can't say they are elegant. Sometimes they get in people's way too; they don't get the lane discipline and which way you are supposed to swim if there are more people in than usual. They don't see that they are stopping you doing your nice long clear lengths either! You find out what rules you have in a pool when other people transgress them!

There are lots of life lessons in a swimming pool. When I get in I just surrender to the water and go right underneath, where I can't breathe; and it takes trust to know that nevertheless, I will be all right. And I swim best when I don't fight the water, but go with the flow, working with it rather than against it. So now I can do a pretty decent front crawl whereas before I struggled to get the breathing right. A big change for me.

So there are lots of metaphors around swimming, water, flow, immersion. The appreciation of metaphor is nothing new in human culture, but there are new applications of the understanding of metaphor, especially in clean language and clean coaching. The governing idea is that we think in metaphors and pictures (as you saw I did at the start) and that when we become aware of them and develop and investigate them, this can lead to dramatic shifts in our understanding of any situation, clearing the way (see what I did there?) to changes in behaviour, attitudes and life as a whole. 

It's a different way to look at a situation, and the two main questions will almost always get you started in finding a new viewpoint. 

They're very simple. 

Let's say your topic, issue, concern, wish is X. 

The first question is, What kind of X is that X? 

Then - is there anything else about that X? 

You can ask the second question several times to get more detail. 

Without going through the full clean coaching process, you can apply just these two questions in your daily life, in conversation with others or even yourself.  The results can be striking! 

Why not give it a go, and let me know how you get on? 

I hope it goes swimmingly!

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Written by Barbara Bates - Supporting Professional People under Pressure

Barbara Bates is an experienced and qualified personal and executive coach with a professional background in health, social care and nursing. She works particularly with professional people under pressure. Based in Nottingham, she also offers Skype and phone sessions, and online coaching programmes, especially about well-being.… Read more

Written by Barbara Bates - Supporting Professional People under Pressure

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