The Up Side To Swimming With Sharks

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Fresh fish has long been an important part of the Japanese diet, but the challenges of meeting the demand was overtaxing the area’s waters.

To solve the problem, fishing companies acquired bigger boats that could go farther out. But—as is often the case—the solution brought with it a different problem.

Longer trips to more distant waters meant the fish had to be frozen on the boats. But frozen fish didn’t suit the refined Japanese taste in seafood, and prices for the frozen fish quickly dropped.

So it came to the next idea—installing fish tanks in place of the freezers. After a little thrashing around, the fish became listless and apathetic—and their lethargy, like freezing, affected the taste of the final product. Consumers were still unsatisfied, and the industry was in crisis.

Then they came up with a brilliant solution to keep the fish tasting fresh. They added a small shark to each of the fish tanks. Fearful of the shark, the fish were constantly on the move—keeping them active and therefore fresh.

Just like those fish, we all sometimes are in situations where we don’t want to be, racing to stay ahead at whatever is nipping at us. But it’s not 100 percent bad (well, at least not for us—it’s hard to find an up side from the fish’s perspective).

Here are some of the benefits of being thrown in with a shark or two:

Sharks keep you fresh. To solve the challenges that face us, whether they’re everyday or extraordinary, means finding an innovative way to transform the source of the challenge. That’s a task that’s much easier to do when you can draw on the power of staying fresh, using new experiences to shape old ideas.

Sharks keep you engaged. Indifference is no longer an option. Every day is infused with your mission and the goals that will help you achieve it.

Sharks keep you challenged. Many people are mistrustful, even frightened, of new ideas. They buck at the idea that something will be challenging. But as leaders and innovators, we welcome challenges as the way to our greatest achievements.

Sharks won’t let you quit. Leaders are called to be tenacious. Cowards never start, the weak don’t finish, and leaders never quit. The right challenges and engagement won’t leave you any room to even think about it.

Sharks keep you on the move. As with the fish, a stagnant existence comes with bad side effects. Leadership favors those who are on the move, those who take action, those who come up with creative solutions.

When you least expect it, life may send you a challenge to test your courage, the best leaders, the most successful people, learn the up side of swimming with the sharks, they are ready.

Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by your challenges; instead, view them with a fresh, challenging mind and discover what you can learn from them, because you usually face your greatest opposition when you’re closest to your biggest innovation.

Lead From Within: Life is about keeping us fresh It’s about being bold and staying ahead of the sharks. Because being challenged in life is inevitable, but defeat is not.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Panteli Tritchew

    09. Jun, 2015

    Any new challenge is an opportunity for growth and learning. As you say, if we ” view them with a fresh, challenging mind and discover what you can learn from them,” those are the moments when we are most alive. Great post and reminders, Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Terri Klass

    09. Jun, 2015

    It’s always important to keep ourselves fresh with new ideas and experiences. Of course that can take many different shapes, whether we are writing, reading or presenting.

    Leaders know that lifelong learning and evolving is essential to keeping our energy levels up and creating new challenges.

    Thanks Lolly for a great post!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Duncan M.

    12. Jun, 2015

    Thank you, Lolly, for this great story. It is truly engaging and describes life very well. It may be hard to see the up side of swimming with sharks, but in the end, great challenges make us better professionals.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Juan Sagaro

    12. Jun, 2015

    What a fantastic message, I have been following you for one week and you are amazing. We live daily with sharks it all depends on your goals and challenges you are willing to face that counts. If you play safe in life you will probably to even go in the water afraid of sharks. Only the ones that want to make a difference in this world will take the challenge. Your story has all the rules to live by. Thank you, lately I had to face manny sharks but thanks to my Lord he made it easy for me to confront them face to face.
    Bless you

    Reply to this comment
  5. Duane scaresthehawk

    13. Jun, 2015

    Very inspiring, thank you.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Matthews Otalike

    14. Jun, 2015

    Thanks Lolly for this. Indeed challenges bring out the best in one, knowing that we learn what makes people who they are; why they prove difficult and discover their strengths and positive sides and thereafter seek to appeal to those positives. The process challenges, keeps one engaged and on the move towards team building. The sense I made of this piece.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Susan Mary Malone

    17. Jun, 2015

    This is just wonderful, Lolly! Sharks definitely keep you engaged, challenged, and all lead to learning new things. Which helps us in all areas of our lives.
    Great insights!

    Reply to this comment
  8. M.J.

    05. Jul, 2015

    Now I have to learn to how to swim, so I can be put in positions to swim with the sharks.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Salem Dib

    26. Jun, 2016

    Leaders are to create Sharks from within, so that they will continuously be ready to face challenges with courage and determination. It’s a mindset that keeps us fresh, active, creative, and keeps our actions tasteful.

    Thank you for the very inspiring thoughts.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Daniel Balami

    19. Jan, 2021

    This is the stark reality of life captured in an amazing presentation. There is the need to have this wake up call from the sharks from time to time in order for us to remain innovative and competitive. Thank you so much Lolly

    Reply to this comment

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