Rick Lozano is an energetic, unique keynote speaker who combines his work as a musician with his expertise in talent development to produce keynotes that audiences rave about. He specializes in helping people amplify their impact as leaders, individuals, and teams, he also helps organizations and teams elevate their performance, create customer loyalty, and build work cultures people crave.
I caught myself saying that to Angela right before we were about to descend. My intent was pure, by this point she was an experienced diver and we had done this many times before. In my mind, a few simple words of encouragement would help alleviate the anxiety she happened to be feeling before our dive that day.
But then I realized how ridiculous I sounded. Has saying “don’t be nervous” ever really helped anyone not be nervous? To that end, I didn’t even know what she was anxious about! Simply telling her not to be nervous wasn’t going to help.
(and this is the ocean, where, you know…these things live)
(that moment at :12 when the shark raced towards us briefly…yikes!)
And then I thought of our journey to this point.
Diving came easy for me, it really is something I’ve always wanted to do, but Angela had her reservations.
We’d snorkeled a lot over the years, but the idea of sinking below the surface and breathing underwater was an uncomfortable one. She didn’t enjoy putting her head underwater, and never did so, even in our backyard swimming pool! Diving was much more difficult in the initial stages for her.
Yet, here she was…not only was she doing it, she was rocking at it! She had, time and again, overcome her anxiety, given the thumbs down “descend” signal, and developed into a great diver. But it took considerable more effort on her part to get to this point, she worked harder at it than I did and has the right to feel any damn way she wants to feel!
So I stopped. I stopped telling her not to be nervous, or reminding her how many times she’s done this before. Now on the rare occasions where either of us have the pre-dive jitters, we’ve established what we refer to as “The Process”. The process includes simply stopping. Breathing. Understanding whatever is causing the concern. Taking the time and space to work through it. And then (most of the time), proceeding underwater.
That made me think of how many times in life I’ve probably done this, not been a great friend or colleague because I wasn’t empathetic to where the other person was coming from (and Empathy is one of my top 5 strengths!), and how I can benefit from a “Process” for being emotionally intelligent.
Here’s what I’m working on these days:
Validate the emotion. It is there. It is real. It is THEIRS. Who am I to say they have no reason to feel sad/angry/frustrated/anxious/concerned. It isn’t my emotion! And, really, if I was feeling that way, I’d be even more frustrated that someone was dismissing my frustration!
Understand the emotion. As much as possible, examine what is causing it. Not in an attempt to “fix” it, but rather, as a way to understand how to best serve the other person. Maybe all they need is someone to listen. Or, maybe, there’s something of incredible importance that we need to be aware of. In Angela’s case, we’re about to engage in this unnatural act of going eighty feet underwater and breathing from tubes and tanks while swimming with sharks and jellyfish – there’s always room for concern!
Proceed. In whatever direction the other person feels is right. Ask questions, listen, understand what is happening, and go from there. In the case of scuba diving, if either dive buddy doesn’t have a good feeling, it is ALWAYS ok to stop and try again later. And if we are already underwater, either partner ALWAYS has the right to terminate the dive.
So, that’s what I’m working on. What process works for you?
…and here’s a cool grey Angelfish!
Empathy Under WaterRick Lozano2021-04-13T07:39:16-05:00
Less than a year ago, my wonderful wife, Angela, and I began scuba diving. In the span of 10 months we have gone from the initial lessons and certification to now having logged almost 60 dives. We’ve spent around 50 hours total underwater, obtained our Advanced Open Water Certification from PADI, and dove in conditions ranging from the pitch black and ice cold of a Texas lake in February, to the beautiful reefs of the Florida Keys and Mexico. And yes, there were sharks.
It has been an incredible journey and I am thrilled this is a part of our lives and I can’t wait to get underwater again!
And I’ve learned a ton, some things about myself, some things about Angela (she’s a bad ass!), so much about the ocean and the incredible creatures in it. We’ve made some friendships with some great people in the local dive community, learned how to use a compass, we even won an underwater navigation contest! (full disclosure…we were awful but apparently everyone else was slightly more awful!)
And it has opened my eyes to some things that have helped me grow personally and professionally and, to that end, I thought I’d share a few lessons learned regarding:
Empathy and emotional intelligence
Trust and communication
Navigating through discomfort
…and more. All while watching Goliath Grouper and Barracuda hanging out underneath my boat while I’m trying to get back in it.
So I’ll hope you’ll join me for my little series of “tales under the sea”, but before I get to writing the next post, a few ideas regarding scuba diving:
The community is refreshingly inclusive. I’ve seen a great mix of genders, ages, and body types. You don’t have to be Michael Phelps to want to get in the water!
Most dive shops offer a “discover scuba” session where you are gently introduced to scuba diving, that could be a great way to get your feet (and everything else!) wet. If you’ve thought about it, give it a go!
If you do really want to add diving to your life, buy your own gear. People with their own gear dive more, pure and simple. It is more cost effective in a lot of ways, but there are also two additional factors that make this a wise investment if you are willing to take the plunge:
Knowing your gear makes you safer. If you dive with familiar equipment, it is easier to adjust things underwater, troubleshoot issues, and react in an emergency situation.
There is a certain pride and attachment with owning your own gear. It is YOUR kit. You build it, you care for it, it grows and changes as you continue to grow as a diver.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money to start, we chose one of the lowest kit options and it worked out great for us.
So there you have it. I could go on for hours, but for now that is all. I’ll get to the real learning concepts in the next posts.
For now, adios!
Learning Under Water P.1Rick Lozano2020-02-26T11:13:57-06:00