Swimming With the Fish

Stingray seen during my trial run snorkel trip at Discovery Cove in Florida.

Part of my preparation included a trial run snorkel with domesticated sea life.

It’s no secret around the office that my biggest fear lives in the ocean. No, I’m not talking about sharks, stingrays, barracuda—not exclusively, anyway. A dolphin, up until recent experience, has always been just as terrifying as a great white.

My fear is not of the animals themselves—though their menacing teeth or prehistoric size doesn’t exactly help—but of the fact that, given a battle to the death scenario, I would not have the upper hand.

Swimming with the fish, for me, is far outside the scope of my comfort zone.

While this fear doesn’t affect my day-to-day life (though, I can see the enormous fish swimming in the fountain pond outside my window), it is an extreme example of the fear that lives inside of all of us over something. For some, it may be the fear of taking their business into the waves of social media; others may tremble at the thought of replacing that rotating globe that has been the hallmark of their website since 1998; yet more stay up all night in agony over the prospect of needing your agency to conceive a new campaign, even if it is long overdue.

These fears are more like the ones that we encounter on a regular basis when working with our clients. And it’s not surprising. Just like swimming in the ocean, revisiting design decisions made a decade ago will often take those used to working with them out of their comfort zone, even if change is obvious to them that is necessary.

While stepping (or swimming) out may be paralyzing at first—I was literally given a small shove off the boat when I finally did snorkel in open sea a mere 2 weeks ago—it soon becomes evident that our fear ends by taking that initial plunge.

The real deal! Snorkeling in open sea off the coast of Curacao.

The real deal! Snorkeling in open sea off the coast of Curacao.

What helped me get there was preparation. No, I didn’t set out to become an expert on marine life, that would have been unreasonable. What I did do, however, was arm myself with available facts. I talked with those local to the area I was planning to snorkel, looked up statistics on shark attacks in general, and sought out any known survival techniques to prevent myself from becoming a target in the first place (incidentally, I learned that sharks are 13 times more likely to attack males, and even then when they are swimming alone and in a state of physical distress).

Preparation—regardless of what your fear—eases your mind as you head into the process because you are no longer blindly diving into the black hole of the unknown. While you may not be completely relaxed in the open water, you do feel a sense of calm in being informed about what to expect.

And, unlike the fish, we as the design team are here to help with that preparation, both prior to jumping off the boat and during your excursion. =D

Jennifer Soloway [follow me on Twitter]
Art Director
Strategic Insights

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