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Swimming Lessons

There are at least two theories for entering a swimming pool: slowly ease down into the water in order to gradually adjust to the temperature, or, jump in and be done with it. There are also at least two theories for learning how to swim: slowly with incremental lessons, or, jump in and sink or swim. I heard a comedian say that if your parents threw you out of their boat, they were not trying the second procedure, actually they were trying to drown you!

Entering a private practice has at least two options: jump in alone, or join an existing practice. Both can be started part-time while you have a job at an agency or institution. You can buy a practice from a Baby Boomer who is retiring so that there is already a stream of clients available to serve. You can partner with one or more others ready to start a private practice. You can join an established group that already has momentum in your area.

In Carol Dweck’s Mindset, the differences between the stuck mindset and the growth mindset might help you decide which approach to try first. The fixed mindset cautions us against failure or getting embarrassed, while the growth mindset welcomes failure as a means toward the goal of accomplishment. When we were little, we had the growth mindset for learning to walk and talk, and all of us failed often during walking and talking lessons.

I failed terribly as a boy learning to swim. I jumped into the deep end of a pool, and none of the adults noticed or came to my rescue. I could see the “hill” that led to the shallow end where we had been playing earlier, so I just walked up there. During that short walk, I started a long fear of the water.

My parents were both afraid of drowning and neither knew how to swim. My mom and her friends started a YMCA in our neighborhood, and I remember helping assemble the lockers. We had swimming lessons there and I outgrew the fear of the water. Years later in that YMCA pool I earned the Life Saver merit badge for Scouts.

However you may start a private practice, don’t be foolish and risk drowning (hire a Life Guard), but anticipate and celebrate failures. Mentors and supervisors can help you grow and succeed no matter how slowly or quickly you want to enter the pool.

If you need some encouragement, then please contact me at


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