Swimming, drowning or scuba diving‽ 5 success steps for busy high achievers

If you read my seminal article on swimming or drowning, I trust you found some helpful tips on the importance of learning to swim efficiently and how to assist properly in case of an aquatic related emergency.

In 2021, I obtained my Dive Master certification over a focused two week sabbatical in Los Cabos, Mexico. Now diving in the Sea of Cortez surrounded by stinging jellyfish and flying Mobula rays may sound sexy or even inviting but, truthfully, diving for eight straight days in paradise has its drawbacks when you are under the watchful eyes of a task driven Dive Instructor. This is a necessary evil because all great instructors want to make sure you are safe and prepared for success. After 27 years of diving in some of the most pristine locations on earth, I am happy that I took a brief season to complete focused training and ultimately be awarded my black Dive Masters card.

In this article, my goal is to encourage you to identify and focus on your number one goal (number #2 and #3 can’t be completed until #1 is finished). These simple steps will help high achievers get back to basics and focus on competing priorities in this complex world of too much fluff.


The earth is about 70% water. Most divers are reasonably happy to have such a vast aquatics playground at their finger tips. Having started my diving training in the Mediterranean Sea, you can imagine the experiences I have had being so close to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean as my back up diving pools. As busy professionals, the military in my case, we are competing against ourselves, and our careers for approval, appreciation and recognition. My resolve these past 27 years, was to segregate idealism from realism. For me, that meant, taking care of my health first, my career second and then focus on my life’s purpose when I left the confines of the military security gates. The important take away is understanding who and what I want to become beyond age 75 years old. I gambled on the long game versus short term applause. Sure, I got a lot of push back from that mindset but as Brian Tracy would say, Eat that Frog. My advice would be to make a list of all your goals for one hour. Then spend the next 2 – 3 days focusing on the top three and finally deciding that the cream at the top is worthy of your complete attention (yes I know, that is easier said than done). The goal is to prioritize your #1 goal and complete that goal before you move down the list to #2 (at all cost). Delaying this decision will lead you to compromise your success by multi-tasking ad infinitum. The bright side is, you can’t serve two masters, and you are the Master that must choose wisely. No excuses!

Inspiration is the energy required to accomplish a focused and worthy purpose to call life meaningful


One of the lessons learned from obtaining my doctorate was, I had to prove my dissertation through empirical facts using the power of the pen. My dissertation chairperson and committee members, at Nova Southeastern University, made me validate my theories and have it scrutinized critically by my peers. It is a lesson I will never forget. When life meets the bright lights and golden staircase heading north, you wont have any luggage with you. So, how will life and liberty know you existed? Will your kids or business colleagues speak on your behalf? Make sure that your chosen goal is documented for the world to witness. Even if that means, drafting your post life desires via a living will and testament statement years in advance. For some high achievers, you should actually write your personal memoirs without delay (why put this off any longer?) I wrote my desires and placed them on my bookshelf so that my words are easy to find. If its not written, video taped or on some form of legitimate media, someone will make up stories about what you did or did not do. So get something on paper and sign your name and place it where your desires are easy to find.


Just four years ago, I couldn’t swim 25 meters without complete exhaustion. The missing link was proper training and commitment (never kick while you are swimming; its more of a flutter actually). I had to essentially reinvent myself and become a swimmer and not a diver in a swimming pool. Similarly, while diving, I have to take off my long distance swimmer’s cap and concentrate on important dynamics such as nitrogen and oxygen ratios, how much buoyancy is required and where my students are at all times. We are more than our name tag on our chest or what is on the top of our mahogany desk. Our goals should command our attention and inspire us to action in the proper context of our chosen field of endeavor. To achieve continued success or accomplish your #1 goal, we all should reinvent ourselves and start anew or leverage skills to ease our transition into the new you. This may require some focused time alone while you transition or even avoiding relationships with familiar friends or colleagues for the sake of your desired purpose. However, in the end, you will reach your goal and just may build new friendships in the process. In my estimate, reinvention should happen about every 15 years or so or as necessary on your chosen purposeful path of achievement.

Goals should inspire changes in you and the perception of others about the old you!


After learning how to swim, I realized that many people were drowning from preventable causes. It now seems like every week another person is drowning or being saved from near drowning. At some point, I realized that I have a documented solution that may help save many people from drowning. According to the CDC, over 360,000 people drown annually across the globe. Over 3,900 people or 10 people drown per day in the United States alone. Of these thousands of people, over 80% are men. For minority children under the age of 10 years of age, the rates are about seven times higher than their majority counterparts. Ouch! Now that hit home on many levels. So now I drafting a mechanical patent for publication. I am letting the world know I have a solution so we can address drownings and near drownings globally. I plan to file my patent not later than 30 August 2021. Talk about pressure to get it done!

High achievers tend to get on the social and occupational treadmill of competing inspiration and social acceptance ladder. Whether its becoming a CEO, a high ranking military officer or the first person to make it past the imaginary Karman line in space (which is popular today), we will do anything to get the gaveled blessings of success. According to Purdue University, a global sample spanning 164 countries and including data culled and crunched from 1.7 million people, doctoral student in the Department of Psychological Sciences, Andrew T. Jebb confirms his team “found that the ideal income point is $95,000 for life evaluation and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being.” In that same online article, Christopher Boyce, psychologist at University of Stirling’s Department of Economics, said, “you look across the income distribution, people at the top do tend to be somewhat happier … but it’s the ranking that is actually important.” Einstein said happiness is a moving target and more humble pursuits may actually be favored if true contentment is your goal.

That is it ladies and gentlemen, it appears happiness peaks approximately at $100,000. You can buy more stuff but the happiness curve can’t be purchased beyond its apex. My recommendation would be to pursue a meaningful life purpose supported by enriched experiences as this is more beneficial than chasing happiness. If you are chasing the pleasure of weightlessness in a space ship, to grace the cover of Life magazine’s as the greatest human on earth or that elusive fifth golden sports ring to fit your enlarged ego, you will not improve your existence on earth. You are all you need to be a success.


Finally, understand that you are your worst enemy and biggest supporter. You are indeed your biggest cheerleader and worst critic. It is best to put on your oxygen mask first and ensure your equipment is in working order and functional before you care for your students, instructor or giddy recreational weekend divers. I am sure you have been given those instructions a thousand times before your plane has taken off from the airport. There is no difference when it comes to goal setting and success. Yes, this may be counter intuitive for large organizational processes and team think tanks but if you were to look around today, or in the mirror or outside your front door, you probably realize, you are a cumulative source of many experiences, not just one. When facing and under water predator or unusual marine animal in the bottom of the deep blue sea, I try to focus on the moment at hand and not the performance appraisal or university degree on my “I love me wall.” Those man made 8 x 11 reprints will not do me any good at 130 feet below the chartered dive boat. Your goals are a reflection of you. You cannot be all things to all people, social groups or cultures at any one given time. The best way to manage your life is to be great at your God given talent (s). By maximizing your talent you are, in effect, the best you can be in all circles. Best of luck to each of you and remember that success comes from choosing and accomplishing your #1 goal before on to the next life challenge!

When I visited the luxurious Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco 25 years ago, the valet line was filled with millionaires waiting on a guy being paid tips to bring them their millionaire dollar cars. So I took a taxi home and got some rest while they waited.

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Mankind’s virtue subsist on a spool of folly and an untethered thread of intelligence

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