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My greatest moment

The backstory to my greatest ever moment. August 1976. I was nine. In an era before Wi-Fi, when kids had to make their own entertainment, me and my mates spent the entire summer holidays swimming in the river Trent (yes, really), and practising holding our breath. By the end of the holidays I could do 1min 47sec. It was before hashtags had been invented but I have to say, in modern parlance, it was #impressive.

September 1976, Moorways Swimming Pool, Derby. Still age nine. Our class had been taken to the big swimming pool in Derby. It was a one-off. Our teacher had an hour to teach us to swim but, guess what, I already could. She split the ‘ones who could’ from the ‘ones who couldn’t’, and we took the deep end.

We all hung onto the side, awaiting our instructions. “Before we start,” she said, “we’re going to see who can stay underwater the longest.”

Luckily I’d already weed in the pool, otherwise I’d have wet myself with excitement. I’d been practising all summer. This was my moment. She counted backwards from three and we all bobbed under. I let out a smidgeon of breath, just enough to expertly sink to the bottom, where I sat, Zen-like. Goggles hadn’t been invented back then but my bleary vision picked out some kicking legs above. I was counting in my head and was at ‘37 elephants’ and feeling fine. I got to ‘60 elephants’ and started again. Could I actually beat 1min 47sec?

One and a half minutes was hurting but it would be worth the pain. “45 elephants, 46 elephants, 47 elephants,” I counted in my head. By now my face wasn’t very Zen. It was more etched in oxygen-depleted agony and I shot to the surface on 1 min and 49 elephants, punching the very air I was gasping for. A new record!

I looked around. My classmates were doggy paddling to the other side of the pool. Nobody even knew I was underwater. In fact, I’d been underwater for so long that the lesson had continued without me. I joined in, sheepishly.

The point? My greatest triumph was never noticed by anyone else. Nobody applauded. Nobody even knew. And the same goes with my greatest failures. And yours to. So while we all have terribly embarrassing moments from way-back, faux pas that can still redden our faces all these years later, the good news is that everyone else has forgotten or, even better, they don’t actually care. They’re busy being absorbed in their own moments of minor horror.

Please don’t let my attempt at light-heartedness deflect you from the true message. Anyone over the age of 30 has collected enough reasons to be miserable for the rest of their life. Let go! The biggest thing holding you back is you.

Step aside. Get out of your own way!

Andy C

Andy’s new book, The Little Book of Emotional Intelligence is riding high in the charts. If you haven’t read it yet, you can get your copy from our online shop.

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Posted by: Andy C