The Joy of Progress

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The process of teaching my kids to swim hasn’t necessarily been an easy one. Between friends with pools and trips to San Diego beaches, the ability to swim is kind of important. But amid a pandemic, it’s been a challenge to find available swimming pools for lessons. 

After a quick Google search, I found SafeSlash Swim School — a company that establishes swim schools within health clubs. They offer a variety of different classes, and with an absence of other options, we signed up.

While my kids have taken swimming lessons in the past, they proved me correct in signing them up for the beginner-level classes. The first couple of lessons featured high emotions — and one of my kids was absolutely amazing at keeping his hair dry.

Now, fast forward a few months and my kids have consistent, weekly lessons under their belts. This past week I witnessed a really cool occurrence.

One of my kids, the one with the dry hair, finally decided he would blow bubbles in the water. That led to getting his hair wet. That then led to putting his face in the water. And finally, he put his entire head underwater. And later, he jumped into the water like he never had before. He’s not quite swimming yet, but this was a huge milestone.

Throughout their time at SafeSlash, I’ve been impressed with the instructors. They do a terrific job at keeping the kids engaged and keeping the class moving along. But there’s one thing that impressed me most as I observed this week’s lesson.

When my son finally decided to put his head underwater, the look on the teacher’s face was that of pure elation. Another teacher that was nearby said something like, “It’s amazing to see how he’s progressing.”

At that moment, it was clear that the teacher wasn’t just doing this job to earn a paycheck — though I’m sure that was a big part of it. They were also vested in seeing my children progress from a point at which they were afraid of the water to become fully proficient swimmers. And furthermore, they took the time to recognize and celebrate meaningful progress along the way.

This may seem like a simple story to share, but here are a few ways this experience is challenging me.

  1. I have a deeper appreciation for coaches, teachers, and trainers who are emotionally vested in the success of their students.
  2. I’m challenged to pause to celebrate meaningful progress in learners rather than despairing and even becoming impatient at the time it’s taking to move from beginner to proficient.
  3. I’m inspired to apply this to customer interactions — celebrating any time I’m able to help a customer better understand our product and service.

Is teaching, training, or coaching a part of your role or job? Leave a comment and share about the joy and gratification you experience when your learners make progress. Also, share how you best maintain a mindset where you regularly celebrate these milestones.

I’m grateful to have found instructors who do just this as they help my kids learn new skills.

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Jeremy Watkin is Director of Customer Experience and Support at NumberBarn. He has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service and contact center professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, product marketing, social media, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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