You may recall that I have, for some time, been “learning” the backstroke. Which is really to say attempting it. The coaches don’t have to say much because the look on their face says, “I don’t know what it is, but that’s not quite right.” So here’s the scenario:

  • Learning a new skill (backstroke)
  • Some background knowledge
  • Incorrect technique
  • Sub-par performance (understatement, in my case)
  • Emotions: frustrated, annoyed
  • Thoughts: Everyone else seems to be able to do it (effortlessly) why can’t I? How could it be this difficult? What am I doing wrong?
  • Attitude: I’m going to figure this out!

 After about two months of thinking to myself that I really should try to learn that darn stroke…, it is starting to click. Starting. I have enough backstroke elements and technique to build on now. I’m not great at it.

But the onlooking coaches are now smiling – I think mostly from relief now, because they don’t have to keep saying it’s terrible! So I take it from the feedback that the stroke has been improving.

As I said, I’m no great backstroker, but, if I do say so myself, I am persistent. I keep at things I want to do successfully because it becomes a challenge. I also like to learn things. And here is the more important thing I am learning at this stage of our 3rd fitness challenge: Victory is sometimes not a momentary point in time, like the sudden  declaration: YOU CAN DO THE BACKSTROKE! Which, incidentally, has not happened yet. Victory, especially over physical skills or, perhaps well-established lifestyle patterns, is more of a slow grind. At the beginning, it can be exceptionally unrewarding, or even frustrating or discouraging.

Don’t be surprised about that. Some, if not many, things are simply difficult. If I could challenge you at all through this, it would be to say become more persistent. Learn how to keep yourself at things you want to do. Expect setbacks and failures. In fact, learn all you can from them.

I really believe that the more we develop the physical, cognitive and emotional skills behind persistence, the better accomplishers we will become. Accomplishers are in the long game. They realize that life victories are usually slow and gradual.

Be persistent.