363 | But Don’t Go In

This week’s podcast isn’t actually about water safety. But I think these act as an interesting metaphor for some of the challenges we face in our modern world.

You might have heard the advice to “reach or throw, but don’t go” if you find someone struggling in the water.

The basic instinct might be to jump in and do something to help. But this puts both lives at heightened risk. If we are panicked, we may make things worse for the other person; overpowering them, pulling them underwater, and even inadvertently using them in what could become our own struggle for buoyancy.

In other words, provide an anchor that can bring the other person to safety. Which requires you to be on a solid foundation and partner with the most effective and expert sources of help.

But Don't Go In

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in the UK launched an educational awareness campaign called ‘Float to Live’ a few years ago. They provide a clear set of instructions if you find yourself in difficulty in the water.

  • Fight your instinct to thrash around.
  • Lean back, extend your arms and legs.
  • If you need to, gently move them around to help you float.
  • Float until you can control your breathing.
  • Only then, call for help, swim to safety or continue floating until help arrives.

How do we respond to a world in crisis?

When we see upsetting and disturbing news, it’s tempting to unanchor ourselves in various ways and jump in the water. Perhaps a sense of guilt, empathy, or even fear about what it could mean for us, others, and the world.

This might lead us to unanchor certain foundational routines and habits. As well as from doing and feeling things that we deem ‘unimportant’ in the context of another person’s immediate crisis.

But at times like this, we actually need to be MORE not less intentional with our anchors.

Foundational Bedrocks of Life

  • Place –  physical environments
  • People – our relationships
  • Projects – our occupations
  • Philosophy – our core personal values
  • Personality – our self-awareness of natural temperament

In this episode, we consider four ways we can be anchored and unanchored to and from life’s foundational bedrocks.

  • Safely Anchored: securely integrated and committed to something or somewhere
  • Safely Unanchored: free to explore, discover, and grow
  • Unsafely Anchored: trapped, stuck, and unable to let go
  • Unsafely Unanchored: aimless drift without appropriate resources

And we think about the impact these can have on our relationship with ourselves, other people, and the world around us. So that we become more effective and intentional in how we engage with a world in need.

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