I Know My Swim Lane and I Know My Stroke

Find your swim lane and know your stroke

I love to swim. I also like to use analogies from swimming in many of the topics that I discuss. Recently someone expressed to me concern with not doing exactly what she thought she would be doing at this point in her life and career. She felt she has always desired to be one thing, but she always finds herself in a different place in her career path but not in a bad way. My reply to her comments/questions reflected the importance of knowing her passion, strengths and key areas of focus. I encouraged her to be comfortable with where she was as long as she was happy and making a difference in the life of others.

So often we find ourselves applying for jobs, interviewing then walk away from the interview saying, “Yes!! I knocked that one out of the park! I will definitely get that job.” Then we don’t get it. We just knew it would be a “good fit” and we just knew we would be hired. Unfortunately, more often than not, it just doesn’t happen. And you are told, “Well, we just don’t think you are a good fit for this job.” Basically, you just don’t quite fit the mold of what they are looking for! If you really stop to think about it, they may very well be correct in their assessment. But not for the reason you may think. There may be something much bigger and better or just more impactful that you really are “suppose” to be doing instead.

Let me give you an example. I have discovered after several failed efforts to obtain a full faculty appointment with different institutions of higher learning, that being a professor is just not what I am supposed to be doing with my life. Same with other higher level leadership roles that fell through. Not everyone is cut out to be a university professor, Senior VP or certain other roles. Being a full time professor may not work but maybe serving as an adjunct faculty teaching evening classes to adults would be a better fit. Or a professional development workshop leader, life coaching, mentor or basically teaching in other formats and settings may be a better fit. Without any hesitancy or discomfort, I can definitely say that is me. I know my strengths and what I am called to do.

A few months ago, I went through a very lengthy process for a faculty appointment at a business college with undergraduate and graduate level degrees. It seemed like a done deal once I completed the full interview process. Much to my surprise, I was ultimately told they were moving forward with another candidate. Same song different verse for me. I have resolved that my incomplete doctoral degree, style and approach to teaching, is not full-time professorship material. I’m more of an inspirational public speaker, you know, a motivator. LOL. That’s what I am and that is what I’m good at. One of my recent workshop participants gave me a “compliment” for holding his attention and actually said congratulations for doing so. It was really funny! He later wrote the following on workshop evaluation, “Angela is one of the best trainers I have ever had! It is very hard to maintain my interest in a subject for more than a few minutes at a time; she was able to keep me on track all day long. She was awesome!!” I appreciate all feedback from participants.

Basically, I know my swim lane and I know my stroke. I love the breast stroke when I swim. I’m not as fast or precise as others in the water, but I swim diligently from one end to the other. Same with my career. I’m going to do what I do in my lane and let others do what they do. You should do the same as well. Focus on your strengths and find that which is a perfect fit for you.

Angela M. Callahan

PESSCE Unlimited, LLC

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