While I am teaching, I try to picture where my former students will be, and I am often surprised. For example, I often can tell which students want to serve in our country’s military. Sometimes I am surprised with the jobs they have, however. For example, there is Kenny. He can sing like an American Idol winner, stands about 5’8″ and weighs about 125 pounds. He rode in a tank loading shells that nearly weighed as much as he did.
Sometimes I can assume what job they will have. Aaron, for example, is a swimmer I coached. It makes perfect sense that he became a rescue swimmer in the Navy. Today, he loves to jump or repel out of perfectly good helicopters, swim through all kinds of water and waves or hit the ground while under possible enemy fire to rescue people. Needless to say, his Mom was not thrilled to discuss his will as he left for his tour of duty.
Understand, swimming can be an individual sport as well as a team sport. Some swimmers only see their own goals and glory. Not Aaron. Yes, he had goals, but he wanted his teammates to reach their goals, too. He led by example and pushed his teammates to work harder each practice. He cheered loudly, applauded victories, and consoled losses. Now his goal is to put himself in harms way to save someone whose goal is to make it home safely.
Aaron teaches us two important lessons. First, we have to care about others to be successful. Teachers and employers must care about students and employees.
Secondly, We have to be willing to sacrifice comfort to be successful. We have to leave our comfort zone and jump out of the helicopter. When we take risks, we either fail and learn from the experience or we succeed and learn from the experience. Either way, we learn and grow as a leader.