It is the strongest swimmers who drown

Warning: this contains soppy and maybe even depressing stuff, with a good helping of self indulgent bullshit and I should probably not publish this, but writing helps me think.

Do you remember that scene at the end of Gattaca?.. with the two brothers swimming out into the sea at night.. (after doing the same as children)

Vincent: “You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton: I never
saved anything for the swim back.”

I think it’s one of the best movie scenes about human courage, rejecting fate, overcoming the odds, bravery and just crazy stubbornness. I’m not really sure why I like this idea. We all know there is a fine line between bravery and stupidity.

I turned 30 in July. It was actually a bit of a non-event, a small party with close friends, nothing big. Just after this I spent almost a month traveling in England, France, Spain and Sweden.. which was my birthday present from me to me. In the end I was feeling more like a 20 year old traveling after school.

“50 is the new 30” as Dr. Ernst likes to say.

Today I started thinking that maybe the reason people make a big deal of milestone birthdays is to spend some time reflecting on where you are and what you want to be going. Seems pretty normal. I’ve been thinking about growing up, balance and focus today.

Why only today? I guess I’ve been busy. I’m good at keeping busy. I also got crapped out from a dizzy height by the significant other. Mostly about working patterns and parenting. One part got stuck in my head: “you see Mia as your 5th child”. I was also called a child. Ouch. “5th” refers to the four companies I’m busy with, taking priority.

Everybody knows the secret to success is: focus. I can even recommend a good book about focus: Focus, by Al Reis.

Yet, I find myself always busy with some new idea. Always doing business. I can go into great detail about why I love working for all the companies we started and how it all makes sense if you should ask me about focus.

Focus is easy. Focus keeps things simple. That’s why I find it hard.

A wise man once told me..

“He who is a slave to the compass has the freedom of the sea”

The trouble is.. I just don’t subscribe to the simple and proven way. Growing up, I was like the kid from Rushmore. I like complexity. I like distraction. I like new and interesting problems.

I guess this is my primary weakness. The risk is overextending. This is my challenge.

So, after a long day, I had to ask myself..

If you had the chance to do it all over again, would you still choose to do what you do? Yes, I love what I do. I know I struggle with focus, I know I can be childish and selfish, I know I’m stubborn and all this reflects in the choices I’ve made.. but I’d rather be unpopular, poor and misunderstood while doing cool, new and interesting things.

“it is the strongest swimmers who drown”, from Dangerous Liaisons

1 thought on “It is the strongest swimmers who drown

  1. Hi Joe,

    To follow up on your whole birthday scenario: I had my own 30th last year. Invited a lot of friends and family I’ve picked up along the way. It felt more or less like… stocktaking my position and situation in life I suppose. I inviting people that represented different times of the last couple of years.

    When I did my 21’st years ago, I didn’t know who to invite… for my 30’th I had to choose who to invite!

    Personally for me, that was a measure of my success in life when I think back on where I was and is now.

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