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  • Writer's pictureJohnny Romero

Note to Self: Never Stop Breathing!

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

I wrote this title one night just before getting a good night’s sleep.

It was the first rule that I learned when I was training to become a certified open water scuba diver: Never Stop Breathing! I was just 18 years old and little did I realize how much that one rule would be a perfect metaphor for many things to come. When I first heard my scuba instructor share this rule with me I honestly thought he was just being funny, but he was being 100% serious.

You see, when you descend underwater, the water pressure gets higher causing the air inside your lungs to compress. This air escapes while you breathe using your Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (S.C.U.B.A.), but let’s say you hold your breath while ascending.

You may ask why would someone hold their breath? Well, it could be to erroneously conserve air or because they were startled by something they saw while diving like a shark or large (gentle) manatee. Whatever the reason, holding your breath underwater while scuba diving is dangerous. If you hold your breath while you ascend to the surface, your lungs and the air within them expand as the water pressure weakens. With nowhere to escape, the air causes your lungs to expand like a balloon which can swell, tear, or collapse.

That’s why I wrote a note to self: Never Stop Breathing!

Rise and Grind, but don’t forget to breathe

man stressed about potential failure at job; woman tired of the daily grind; couple worried about making ends meet

So what’s the metaphor? In life, I’ve learned that you encounter many situations where the first impulse is to hold your breath literally and figuratively. It could be the struggle of making ends meet, the fear of failure, the constant grind that at times feels like you’re just treading water. The truth is that there’s nothing wrong with treading water; it’s always better than letting yourself drown.

Actually, part of your assessment in order to receive your scuba diving certification is being able to float and tread water for 10 minutes. The application in life? Sometimes as a small business owner, you need to keep floating or treading water in order to turn the corner of either a cyclical or unexpected downturn in the economy, or a sudden surge in business. In those moments, it’s important to Rise and Grind, but don’t forget to breathe. In other words, self-care or “breathing” is and should be the most important priority for any successful business owner or entrepreneur. It not only keeps you alive and healthy, but more importantly lets you enjoy the journey.

Family First; No excuses

When you run your own business, the work never ends. There’s always something to do, an email to send or a project to wrap up which makes it a challenge to have a work-life balance. It’s important to put family first; no excuses. Just like scuba diving, make it a habit to check your 02 gauge, resurface, refill your tank, and “breathe”. Every now and then, sit down for breakfast, schedule a lunch date, and always be home for dinner. I admit this isn’t easy when you’re just starting out trying to grow your business, and you get caught up in the moment, but remember you can’t breathe underwater with an empty scuba tank. You also can’t have a happy family life if you hold your breath.

Disconnect to Reconnect

You can easily deceive yourself into thinking that being busy is the same as being productive or being driven is the same as driving results. The truth is you may just be burning the candle at both ends. Instead, at least once a day try to “Disconnect to Reconnect” in order to step back and look at the big picture. Put away the cell phone, get off the internet, and “breathe.” Play some smooth jazz in the background while you think of your why and how that aligns with your People, Product, and Process. I find that this exercise allows me to work smarter and reconnect again with more focus and purpose.

In order to create, you must enjoy creation

There’s a beautiful world out there, stop and enjoy it. Find time to enjoy the sunrise over the mountains, listen to the birds singing, and “breathe”. In my opinion, everything's better with a nice cup of your favorite espresso, latte, or cappuccino 😊. In order to create, you must enjoy creation. Living in Colorado for almost 6 years now, I’ve had the blessing and privilege of enjoying the breathtaking views of Pikes Peak (14,105 feet), Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs, Mount Princeton Hot Springs, or just taking a nice bike ride on a local trail to name a few of my favorites. This type of “breathing” allows me to recharge, enjoy the beauty of nature, creation, and be creative. Some have adopted “Self-Care Saturday” as part of their routine which is great if it works for you.

Regardless of when, where, how, or what you call it, remember your why and Never Stop Breathing!

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