Lessons from an extreme ice-swimmer that we can apply to our professional lives

Ryan Stramrood is a record-breaking ice swimmer, having completed several gruelling swims in sub-zero water temperatures.

Lessons from an extreme ice-swimmer that we can apply to our professional lives

Ryan Stramrood is a record-breaking ice swimmer, having completed several gruelling swims in sub-zero water temperatures. His journey from ordinary to extraordinary is a testament to the power of grit, determination, and embracing the things we perceive to be impossible.

It’s possible to draw insight from Ryan’s experiences and apply it to our decisions around our professional lives. Making a career change can provoke similar mental or emotional battles, such as facing the unknown, leaning into our fears, and the risk of failure. It’s how we deal with such challenges which guides us towards our goals and allows us to unlock our full potential. Here are five career change lessons we can learn from Ryan.

Embrace uncertainty

Ryan’s ice swims are never without complications. We can all embrace uncertainty by:

  • Acknowledging and accepting that uncertainty is a natural part of life and that it cannot be completely eliminated.
  • Preparing as much as possible, but also being ready to adapt to changing circumstances and make last-minute decisions.
  • Focusing on what you can control rather than what you can’t and developing a plan to manage potential risks and challenges.

Face fear

Whether it’s a face-off with the cold, isolation, failure, or death, Ryan is no stranger to the feeling of fear. Fear can play a significant role in the decisions we make on a day-to-day basis. It can be a valuable protective mechanism – but it may also limit us. When thinking about your goals: 

  • Acknowledge and accept your fear: it’s essential to acknowledge and accept our fears rather than ignore or deny them. By accepting fear, you can channel it into a positive force.
  • Prepare and practice: this can help reduce fear and anxiety. By training, rehearsing, and accounting for different scenarios, you can increase your confidence and ability to face fear.
  • Focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on past failures. This helps you stay grounded and focused on the task at hand.
  • Embrace discomfort: discomfort and pain are necessary for growth and progress. By embracing discomfort, you can push past your fears and accomplish what you set out to do.

Build resilience

Ryan has built the resilience needed in extreme swimming through intense physical training that mimics the harsh conditions he faces during his swims. 

Develop a resilient mindset by embracing discomfort and staying positive in the face of adversity. Ryan believes that a positive attitude is crucial for overcoming complex challenges. Focus on the positive aspects of a situation, and practice gratitude and mindfulness to maintain a positive outlook.

Break challenges down into manageable steps to avoid becoming overwhelmed and maintain momentum.

Never underestimate the power of teamwork

Communicate clearly and regularly when transitioning to a new career, effective communication with colleagues, supervisors, and mentors is key. Regular check-ins ensure that you are on track and meeting expectations, and clear communication can help avoid misunderstandings.

When entering a new field, delegate tasks that align with your strengths and seek advice from colleagues with expertise in areas where you may need it.

Seek guidance and advice from those closest to you to prevent you from feeling alone in your decision-making.

Focus on purpose

To stay motivated, focused, and committed to his challenges, having a clear sense of purpose is vital. Ryan uses his swims to promote environmental conservation and to inspire others to pursue their dreams.

Here are three practical pieces of advice to help you find and pursue your purpose:

  • Begin by identifying small, achievable goals that align with your values and passions. 
  • Your purpose may evolve over time, and that’s okay. Stay open to new opportunities and experiences that align with your values and passions, even if they take you in a different direction than you originally planned.
  • Purpose without action is just an idea. Take concrete steps towards your goals, even if they are small at first. Each action you take can help build momentum and move you closer to realising your purpose.

Taking the plunge

If we can unlock the potential of our mind – by embracing fear and uncertainty, leaning on our network, and finding resilience through purpose, we are all capable of pushing past our perception of the impossible and fulfilling our true potential. 

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