Now that summer is getting closer, and my mind turns to water related activities, a childhood memory flashed through my mind that I wanted to share with you.

Back when I was growing up, my grandmother had an above ground swimming pool in her back yard. One of the things that she did in the pool was walk around the circle for exercise and due to her bad knees, it allowed her to walk without any pain. She would spend hours just walking around in a circle. To spend time with her, I would sometimes just go and walk around the pool with her. It would not take that long before we had a whirlpool going in that pool.

If you have ever been in one of those round above ground pools, I am sure that you have tried to make a whirlpool by walking around in the circle. When my friends would come over, we would all get in the pool and do the same thing. If we had a large group of people, we would even try to go faster until you could see the results of us all going in the same direction. Once everyone was moving together, we would stop and try to walk in the opposite direction. Sometimes the current would be so strong that we would be swept away.

This summer time activity made me think about leadership. There are four things that this brought to mind so let me share them with you.

First, It took one person to start the current moving. There were times when we might have been playing games or just jumping in the pool, and someone would say “do you want to make a whirlpool?” It only took that person to provide that vision and then we were all walking in a circle.

Second, the biggest resistance came when we started. The more we stuck to the direction of the leader, the easier it got. To be honest with you, sometimes when the current was strong enough you could even coast for a while. It was also easier to keep it going than it was to get it started.

Third, it was always easier to get the whirlpool going when there were more people on the team going in the same direction. Once we had a plan, and everyone was going in the same direction, it became fun, and we could see the results of our actions.

Lastly, there would always be someone who would want just to stop and try standing there. Some just wanted to experience the resistance. It would only take that one person to stop all of the work that everyone was trying to accomplish. The next thing you know there were people running into each other and all of our work was stopped.

This week’s experiment is a self-evaluation. Are you walking in the same direction as the rest of your team? Are you the one that is holding up the progress of everyone else?