Deb Sofield


Start Wading

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When I was a child, there was nothing I liked more than to wade into the cold creek and look for crawdads and frogs and other creek life. Then we started taking our summer vacation to Isle of Palms on the coast of South Carolina, and my creek became an ocean.

Back then the island was row upon row of summer beach homes (not the spectacular ones you see nowadays). Our beach bungalow was easily recognizable since we were very close to the “famous” island house called Tickled Pink, and yes, it was bright Pepto-Bismol pink. (My brothers would have died if that was where we’d stayed, but alas, we stayed in a neutral colored home nearby.)

One thing I will always remember is that when we went to the ocean, because I was still very young, I was not allowed to go very far out to sea without a brother in tow. No, my ocean domain was the shallow side to wade into, to cool off and then go looking for treasure, shells or sea life. I can remember year after year telling my parents that I was ready to go far out into the water with my float to pick up sand dollars, and each year I was told to wait.

I hated waiting.

Finally, I was old enough (and a strong enough swimmer) to be set free to go wherever I wanted to go, and go I did. I rarely looked back to the shore when I was exploring. I had finally been set free from waiting and pushed past the shallow wading pool and jumped full body into the surf. I was thrilled finally to have the opportunity to explore the sea.

You and I know a lot of people who have spent years of their life just waiting on the shore looking at the vast open ocean but rarely comfortable to dip or even wade into the cool salty water to refresh their soul and set their path.

I love the play on words that today’s message has–Stop Waiting and Start Wading.

So I have to ask, what are you waiting for? What is it that you’re waiting on before you can take the next step for your future?

I don’t think much is going to happen if you keep waiting on the shore of life only thinking about possibilities of opportunities. At some point, you need to consider how to start wading into whatever it is you have dreamed about for so long. Success is only going to happen when you make some movement in the right direction of your dreams.

And if you make a move and it is the wrong move for you, then, by all means, wade back out and start again. So you get a little wet. You’ll dry off in time. Remember, nothing is more disappointing than not at least trying.

I know you hear this message a lot about moving in the directions of your dreams. I admit I write about this topic often because I believe in it. I also know many times we let it go in one ear and out the other because we all have great excuses as to why we can’t do whatever it is we have been thinking about doing.

Sometimes it’s fear that is keeping us where we are, sometimes it is financial and sometimes it is just the lack of energy to do one more thing. I fully understand that it’s just the way things are sometimes.

So with that understanding let’s agree that timing is important, but waiting a lifetime is a bit too long if you want to accomplish your dream. Perhaps you should put a deadline on your idea, and walk back the dates of when goals need to be accomplished or at least met, and then slowly start wading towards your endeavor.

For some, the fears I’ve listed above go deeper–fear of financial loss, fear of ridicule, and fear of the unknown are all very real and may be valid fears. For some, they are good reasons to stay on the shore and not wade into the water just yet, but my concern for you is that at some point the waiting will grow old enough to make you forget your dream.

I have a good friend who would like to run for office. She is smart and well educated, has a good job and great connections, and I fear that five, ten, fifteen or even twenty years from now she will still be talking about running but most likely will never make the jump. Why? Because she is someone who likes to know what is going to happen next. No wading into the water without the promise of victory. While she waits and waits and waits for just the right seat, the right time, the right issue, the right whatever excuse she is hiding behind this week, she continues to talk shop and politics and can opine with the best of them about what should be done to save the planet. But to put herself out there probably is not going to happen because of her fear of losing.

I have told her many times that most of us lose a few races (I’ve lost two and won four) but losing makes us stronger for next time, and with a well thought-out campaign and the right team, victory is as assured as it can be. All she can do is her best and make sure she knows where her votes are coming from. What will most likely happen is that, while she is waiting, someone else will wade into the race and win and hold “her seat” for the next 16+ years.

Waders have a better chance at winning than waiters who tend to…well, wait.

Maybe politics is not your dream; perhaps it is more personal like making a decision to start your own business or leave the company you are with to find a job that is more to your liking.

Many friends of mine would love a different job, but the fear of leaving the golden handcuff jobs they have and not trusting and networking to find the job they desire is preventing them from wading into the job pool for something they would enjoy doing daily.

I’ll share another story with you. I am often asked to meet with friends of friends who tell me that they want to be a national speaker. So occasionally I will meet and hear their story and their dream of being a rich and famous speaker. Then I ask a few questions about what they are willing to do to reach the top, what message do they have that the world needs to hear, how are they marketing themselves currently and some basic questions that anyone would ask if a friend comes to them to say they want a new life and career.

I can’t begin to tell you how many good, honest, kind people dream of being on stage and yet are unwilling to wade into the little cold creek with banks of safety on either side of the meandering stream to pursue their dream. You have to start somewhere and what better place than your community who knows and loves you.

That’s when I see the blank stare of realization that they can’t or will not leave their current job to travel and speak (or even give up their weekends). Their message is nice, but not anything new. They tell me they have no time to market themselves, or they tell me they don’t know how and, worst of all, they will after prompting admit that they are afraid to speak to their hometown team.

I will never forget a very kind man who told me that he “felt led” to be a men’s conference speaker. I asked the basic questions: Did he have a current talk that he could give? No, he had not written one and was worried that he was not a good speller. Did he have a group in mind that he could call to ask to be a speaker? No, he was hoping I would give him names. Had he spoken to any group of any size for practice? Again the answer was no, and with each following question and answer, he gave me a negative rebuttal.

I wish I could tell you these were a few unusual occurrences but they are not. Most everyone who has told me their dream has not been willing to wade into the surf. Their fear of being knocked down by a wave, stepping on a sharp shell or worse yet eaten by a shark is more real to them than following their dream. In fact, most are waiting to be miraculously plucked up by someone who they meet in line at the grocery store and handed a microphone and a ready-made audience so they can…well, actually, I don’t know what they would do since they never wrote a speech, found an audience or ever spoken to more than three friends at the office.

Please don’t hear this as me being unkind. It is not meant to be that at all. I am just relaying the stories that I hear from earnest people who are waiting for life to swoop down and unbelievably hand them a golden ticket to stardom and success. They think since they are camped out on the shore staring intently at the water, that somehow that is all the work that is needed to be successful. No need to get wet when hoping and wishing just might bring the golden opportunity.

Successful people know that sometimes you have to be willing to get soaking wet by wading into the water to see what treasure is under the surf that you’ve been looking, working, praying for. The old line that rings true is Sometimes you’ve got to put hands and feet to your prayers. And I’ll add that you need to put on your swimsuit and goggles.

If there is something you want for your life, consider my thought for today. Please stop waiting and start wading towards your dream or goal or opportunity. Don’t worry about the surf or sand or sharks, because once you’ve set your eye on the prize, swimming comes easy and treasures are found.

Start wading today.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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