Swimming in the Now

~Thoughts on finding my autonomy.

Stephan MR. Covey stands up, raises both his hands in a sweeping gesture and says, “You know the saying, that fish discover water last. They’re so immersed in it, so close to it, they hardly know that they’re swimming in it. Humans are like that with trust.”

Not twenty minutes later DeVon Franklin took the stage, mic-less and simply stated, “Many of us are acting in someone else’s movie, because we don’t know ourselves and we don’t own our authenticity.”

Predominantly, we (the human kind) don’t appreciate what we have close at hand because we are reaching ahead from ourselves. Well, honestly, we were taught that the “next best thing” was just around the corner rather than right in front of our faces. I would argue that to appreciate the future, we need to open our minds now—trust that perhaps everything we ever needed is what we are swimming in.


I tell myself to walk confidently down the street because I know my beginning steps of the day will determine how the rest will turn out. Macklemore’s “Down Town” comes on and I start dancing. In my head, it’s (meaning life) a constant musical. The kind with Gene Kelly—like we speak in song.

A little splash on my outstretched hand and I know that soon I’ll be soaked. Yes, and soon, if not seconds later, I was.

Soaking wet, I board the red line from Porter Station to Park Street Station. Uncrowded. It’s Sunday late morning. I’ve got the beat permanently stuck in my veins. But I spare the other passengers and decide to dance in my head. In my mind, droplets are accentuating my every move. Like Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain”. I told you; for me it’s a musical. So, I hop off at Park Street and jump (literally) onto the Green E line to Longwood Medical Station. Beyoncé’s “Formation” now, and I can’t help it, my hips just start popping.

I’m headed to the Negotiation and Leadership Conference 2016, held at Harvard Medical School. Yes, I’m an MBA student, yes I’m breaking it down like nobody is watching. And I’m letting myself own this absolutely ridiculous side of my character.

I sit down, completely soaking wet in the amphitheater, and the young man beside asks me if I went for a swim. “Yes,” I say and I laugh at how I’m probably the only one who thinks I’m hilarious.

So far, this conference has been an empowering affirmation of my place here in Boston. It was a cumulative moment of realizing that moving here for my MBA was the right choice. We have those moments (don’t kid yourself) when we start to rethink every decision and step in our lives. We wonder if left is better than right, if staying is better than leaving. Ultimately, I’ve come to learn that these life decisions are made better once you know what “present” means for you personally.

Covey put it well when he said that trust is currency. It’s the currency that propels us to fail but also to continue. I wouldn’t have decided to attend this conference if I didn’t trust that it would be worth my time now and lead to greater benefits down the road.

Stephen Covey
Author and Speaker Stephen MR Covey

Cut to me, dripping wet in the amphitheater hanging on to every word Covey says as if it’s a life line I’ve just discovered, “Often the greatest risk is not trusting. You close yourself off to opportunity. Negotiations turn sour and the future doesn’t look as bright.”

My mind drifts to Simon and Garfunkel, “I am a rock. I am an island.” True, we must be our own individuals, but sharing your trust with another doesn’t mean you lose who you are. Trusting now, leads to greater rewards and/or lessons later.

DeVon Franklin put it quite succinctly when he said, “I’d have you negotiate for yourself, and your happiness rather than more zeroes on a paycheck because that won’t make you happy anyway.” Trusting in your present authenticity, leads to personal breakthroughs down the road. Yes, I firmly believe that your quirk factor should be leveraged. Know that it is what others cannot imitate nor would they want to because they’re busy leveraging their own.

Herein lies my only contention, and I’ll quote Incredi-Boy from The Incredibles to make my point, “You say be true to yourself but you never say which part to be true to.” We all have our “selves” that we keep stored for the different shelves we have in life; how do we know which one to stick to? Truthfully, each “self” is a facet of yourself. So being true to all is actually possible.

This is a constant conversation I have with myself about my haircut, or the space in my front teeth. I firstly think that these must be fixed. That my smile isn’t media worthy and my scarves aren’t CEO caliber. Thinking this way means simply that I’m trusting the world’s idea of what those things entail, but it doesn’t mean that they are correct or that I must follow them. DeVon Franklin tied his words up with this little bow, “People outsource happiness, we place it on things, on medals, on money. But maybe, what we fail to realize is that we are sitting on our own unprecedented potential.”

Author, Film Director and Motivational Speaker, DeVon Franklin

Wow. By this time even if I were still soaking wet, I wouldn’t have noticed. I’d just been handed two puzzle pieces that fit seamlessly together. First, to exercise trust; accept it and give it. Second, to trust in my own authenticity.

Everything out there in the world is splendid (or not so splendid), but how do I apply myself to utilize it?

So what do I do now? I put my headphones on and scroll through to that new song by JT. I start singing “Just imagine, just imagine,” moonwalking and twirling; effectively swimming in my now.

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