Life Lessons from the Pool

Yesterday was a fun day. I set up our “new” pool (it was actually a replacement for a damaged one) and my kids, who had been pining for the pool since the last one collapsed, got back into the water again. They swam, splashed and genuinely enjoyed one another. It was a perfect activity for today’s sunny, hot afternoon.

While we definitely enjoyed the end result, there was much effort that went into the pool’s setup. For starters, I had set up the original pool on a slightly sloped area (no part of my back yard is perfectly flat). The water had previously caused the pool to sag to the downside and I wanted to prevent the same outcome this time. So I took my landscape rake and worked for some time to flatten out any bumps and reduce all elevations.

In addition, the earth had a few rocks in it and my kids had the unpleasant experience of stepping on small rocks embedded in the earth just under the original pool (easy to feel with nylon flooring). My goal this time was to make the ground as smooth as possible, so I worked to find and remove all of the rocks that I could find.

I also lay a tarp down under the pool this time, to give the kids a cleaner entrance point than the grass that surrounds the pool. This should keep more grass cuttings from finding their way into the water. A bench was also added to serve as a seat and a place for towels, toys and more.    

As I reflected on my morning of pool prepping, I thought of some lessons that have useful application to many areas in our lives. These include:

  1. Lay a solid foundation – All successful projects begin with a solid, smooth foundation. Whether it’s setting up a pool, launching a new product, or initiating organizational change, a strong foundation helps to ensure that the process will be met with success. When it comes to anything people related, the primary foundation of strong relationships is trust. In the case of a bringing a new product to market, seek to do the necessary research and testing to ensure that the launch will be a success.
  2. Fill with abundance – Just as pools require many gallons of water in order to be fully enjoyed, successful initiatives are filled with feelings of abundance. The more positivity and collaborative thinking that one invests in a project, the greater the return. Think of every initiative with positivity and fill it with all of the energy at your disposal.
  3. Clean the debris – As we filled the pool, leaves began dropping in (my neighbor has an “early shedder” that starts to lose leaves in July – crazy!) I needed to pick up a few leaves and other undesirables to keep the pool in pristine condition for the first use. Oftentimes, workplace or personal projects become sullied with undesirable elements, such as setbacks, limiting beliefs and naysayers. Good leaders know that they must find ways to keep the environment as clean and pure as possible to ensure that they, their direct reports and customers get the most positive experience possible.  
  4. Have fun – So often, it becomes easy to focus on all of the hard work that you invested and forget to enjoy what those efforts produce. In my case, my sore body was begging for some rest and a long shower. But I knew just how much fun my kids were going to have in the water so I made sure to spend some time outside with them as they played. It’s easy to get lost in the work that you do and not take time to celebrate your achievements. We move from one project to the next, and rarely come up for air, let alone give ourselves some much deserved reinforcement. But research tells us that people who take the time to acknowledge and celebrate their achievements are much likelier to keep going without experience the kind of burnout that is so often associated with hard work and little play.