Lessons on fostering compassionate grit and performance from freediving

It is not every day that one gets the opportunity to challenge oneself beyond limits.

I went on a holiday with my sister, her partner and my husband in Greece. The week was one of “get the hell out of your comfort zone”. We indulged in recreational freediving and spearfishing, which we love doing in Cape Town. However, this time it was not just for fun. It was the real deal. This trip not only allowed me to bond with my sister, but it also taught me valuable lessons on leadership and entrepreneurship.

Lesson 1: Prepare for the unknown

At the beginning of the trip, we got briefed on the amazing cave dives that we were going to do. The caves ranged from ones with underwater swim-throughs between 10-25 meters deep to ones where you couldn’t see anything without a torch. As someone who has a phobia of the dark and sharks, this was nerve-wracking for me. I was worried about whether I would be able to do it and whether I would be a burden.

As we dived into the water, I realized that I needed to know what I was getting myself into. I needed information on how long the swim through was and how many seconds I needed to hold my breath. Instead, all I got was reassurance that it was not far, not deep or hard. This made me realize that in life, we do not always get the information we need to prepare ourselves for the unknown. This is why it is essential to understand our finances, cash flow, profit, revenue and cost of goods sold in business. Knowing these details can give us the confidence to take a leap of faith.

Lesson 2: Step out of your comfort zone

I have always believed that I am a happy-go-lucky person. However, as we explored different caves, I realized that I needed to know what I was getting myself into before diving into as mentioned in lesson 1. Stepping out of my comfort zone taught me that to do outrageous things, I need to be well-informed and pay attention to what I can control.

In business, stepping out of your comfort zone is equally important. It is by taking risks that one can achieve success. As business leaders, we need to take the necessary steps to ensure we are well-informed before making a move. For example, conducting market research, seeking advice from industry experts and understanding the competition can help us make informed decisions and be more comfortable with the challenge.

Lesson 3: Compassionate grit and performance

As the trip progressed, we embarked on a wreck dive and rope training. Rope training means depth training, and I was anxious about being the weak link. I struggled to dive down to 15 meters, and my earache became almost intolerable. At the same time, I was proud of my husband for managing to dive deeper.

This experience taught me about compassionate grit and performance. Sometimes, we may not perform as well as we would like, but we should still be proud of ourselves for trying. In business, us as leaders must show compassionate grit when things do not go as planned. Instead of beating ourselves up, it is essential to learn from the experience, adapt and try again.


In conclusion, the week in Greece was not just a vacation. It was an opportunity for me to challenge myself and learn valuable lessons on leadership and entrepreneurship. The trip taught me to prepare for the unknown, step out of my comfort zone and embrace compassionate grit and performance.

As a fellow leader I want to invite you to do something that is so incredibly challenging so you can see how you make sense of the unknown, what it is that you require to push through and where you own levels of compassion lies.

And just a tip, do it with people you trust wholeheartedly.