This past Sunday I was relaxing at the water’s edge of a local beach when a young boy ran full speed right by me and into the shallow surf. He continuously hopped up and down as he was running forward, kicking his little legs in the air and across the surface of the water before inevitably falling face-first into the waves. He got back up and repeated this act several times, each time with more determination than the previous attempt. It became obvious that he was trying to run across the surface of the water. I couldn’t help but to laugh. His combined levels of determination and exertion were priceless.
After several attempts, he noticed my laughter and walked over to me. “What’s so funny?” he asked.
“You remind me of me, and it makes me smile.” I said.
“Do you know how to walk on water?” he asked. “Like a superhero?”
“Well, I think I can help you out.” I said. “Let me give you a few pointers.”
Curious, the boy sat down on the sand next to me. His mother scurried over, worried… but I reassured her that her son wasn’t bothering me. Relieved, perhaps, to have her son sitting safely on the sand instead of flying face-first through the air, she went back to her beach chair 20 feet away and continued a conversation with another lady.
“So, you want to walk on water, eh?” I asked. He nodded his head anxiously.
A Rough Summary of What I Told Him
- Make sure you were born to walk on water. – You must follow your heart, and be who you were born to be. Some of us were born to be musicians… to communicate intricate thoughts and rousing feelings with the strings of a guitar. Some of us were born to be poets… to touch people’s hearts with exquisite prose. Some of us were born to be entrepreneurs… to create growth and opportunity where others saw rubbish. And still, some of us were born to walk on water… to invent the capability of doing so. If you’re going to walk on water, you better feel it in every fiber of your being. You better be born to do it!
- Decide that nothing can stop you. – Being born to walk on water isn’t enough by itself. We must each decide to accept our calling. Unfortunately, most of us make excuses instead. “But I might drown trying,” we say. Or, “But I have a family to think about first.” Walking on water, or doing anything that hasn’t been done before, requires absolute, unconditional dedication. The only person who can control your level of dedication is you. If you’re serious about walking on water, you must decide that nothing… not gravity, not a group of naysayers, NOTHING… can stop you!
- Work on it for real. – While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling… to accomplish our own version of walking on water, only an astute few of us actually work on it. By “working on it”, I mean truly devoting oneself to the end result. The rest of us never act on our decision. Or, at best, we pretend to act on it by putting forth an uninspired, half-ass effort. But to truly walk on water, you’ll have to study physics, rheology, hydrophobic substances, etc… and then you’ll have to define and redefine next-generation theories and complex hypotheses, which must be tested relentlessly. When the tests fail, you must be ready to edit your theories and test them again. This kind of work, the real kind, is precisely what enables us to make the impossible possible.
- Let the whole world know what you’re up to. – When you’re trying to walk on water, or do anything that nobody else has done before, life can get lonely pretty quickly. To keep your motivation thriving, it’s important to let others know that you’re attempting to defeat the formerly impossible. Don’t be shy! Let the whole world know that you’re trying to walk on water. No doubt, it’ll place a bit of extra pressure on your back, and you’ll almost certainly hear some laughter in the crowd. But this kind of pressure fuels motivation, which is exactly what you’ll need to accomplish such a colossal undertaking. And when you finally do succeed, the last bit of laughter heard will be your own.
- Value the people who value your ambitions. – When most people hear about your “mission impossible” aspirations, their natural reaction may be to roll their eyes, call you crazy, and tell you to quit being foolish. But fortunately, the world is also inhabited by pioneers and believers who see the value in your dreams. These people understand that achieving the formerly impossible is one of the greatest gifts human beings possess. They’ll likely give you tips, bits of assistance, and the extra push you need to succeed. These are extraordinary people, and you’ll want to surround yourself with them, because they will ultimately assist you over the hurdles and across the surface of the water. Think of them as an influential, personal support team. Without them, walking on water will be a far more difficult feat, if not completely impossible.
- Ignore the negative naysayers. – No matter how much progress you make, there will always be the people who insist that walking on water is impossible, simply because it hasn’t been done before. Or they may incessantly suggest that the idea as a whole is utterly ridiculous because nobody really cares about walking on water anyways. When you come across these people, don’t try to reason with them. Instead, forget that they exist. They will only waste your time and energy.
- Prepare yourself for the pain. – Even though you’re no longer mindlessly running face-first into the oncoming ocean surf, but instead forming complex theories based on the studies of rheology and fluid viscosity, it doesn’t mean you won’t experience your fair share of pain. You’re in the business of walking on water, of doing something that has never been done before. You’ll likely get a waterlogged, lungful of water on a regular basis. But the pain will seem like a small price to pay when you become the first person to jog across the rapids of the Mississippi.
- Enjoy the pain of your greatest challenge. – Superheroes aren’t real. In real life nobody has ever walked on water. But lots of people have achieved formerly impossible feats, and continue to enjoy the possibilities of new challenges. These people will all tell you there’s nothing more gratifying than the thrill of your greatest challenge. The inherent pains along the way are simply mile markers on your trip to the finish line. When you finally do finish, you may actually find yourself missing the daily grind. Ultimately, you’ll realize that pleasure and pain can be one and the same.
- Never give up! Never quit! – The reason nobody has walked on water isn’t because people haven’t tried. Remember, you just tried several times in a row, and I’m sure many others have too. The reason nobody has succeeded is, simply, that within the scope of modern science and physics, it’s currently impossible. But this doesn’t mean that with your help it won’t become possible in the future. If you were born to do it and truly dedicate yourself to the end result, anything, including walking on water, is entirely possible!
Just a Chance
When we were done talking, the young boy got up and ran back over to his mother. He pointed over to me and I smiled and waved back. Then he said to her, “Mommy, mommy! That guy just taught me how to walk on water!”
A few moments later she walked over to scold me for supposedly giving out reckless advice. She told me I was giving her son a false sense of hope. I told her all I was giving him was a chance.