Swim Through This Crisis

I thought I was done writing about the coronavirus, but then I watched a short video from Ryan Serhant, the famous real estate broker. I don’t watch any of his TV shows, but I find a lot of his motivational videos insightful and less fluffy than the other stuff he does.

As a real estate broker, Ryan Serhant obviously could find a lot of reasons to panic about the current situation.

How many people do you think want to visit homes right now? Not a lot.

How many people do you think are excited that the interest rates are so low, to go spend money they don’t have? Not a lot.

These are scary times, for him and for many other people. But he decided to not panic and to focus on what he CAN control, instead of obsessing over what he CANNOT control. And he has a great metaphor for it, that I wanted to share in this article.

Consider this crisis (or the possible beginning of it) a storm in the ocean (or the beginning of a storm), with people swimming everywhere. Everyone swims well when there are no waves. Everyone is a great swimmer, can make perfect time, and go fast. But now there’s a storm, and all of the sudden there are lots of waves. A lot of the swimmers start failing, they try to go over the waves, they don’t succeed…

The world is in a storm right now. Make no mistake. Anyone who will come out of this storm better than what he/she was before the storm hit, is going through the waves the same way professional swimmers do. And what do professional swimmers do to go through big storms in rough open seas?

They do 3 things which apply to anyone, no matter how hard the situation you’re facing is.


1. Regulate breathing

Photo by Kevin Wolf on Unsplash

Great swimmers in a storm make sure they’re not pounding, breathing in a panic all the time. If the waves are coming at them from the right, they’re breathing from the left, and vice versa. They swim in accordance with the waves, and the only way to do that is to stay calm and acknowledge the environment around them.

2. Stay calm

Photo by Cristian Palmer on Unsplash

Great swimmers in a storm know that they don’t have a choice. For now, they’re stuck here, so they should focus on dealing with the situation the best they can. They go through the water until they can figure out what to do, or until help comes and finds them.

Most people who are shaking their arms, panicking, screaming at the top of their lungs, are not reacting the best way. They become out of breathe, they can’t control themselves, and they lose all of their energy.

3. Keep moving

Photo by Ibrahim Mohamed on Unsplash

Great swimmers know they have to keep moving if they want to make it through. You can’t stay still in cold waters. You end up freezing to death, and drowning. Making sure your body keeps moving in a smooth and calm way is crucial to surviving.

People who are standing still, paralysed, by fear or by something else, need to get moving fast if they want to be able to make it through.


Nobody knows where this crisis is going. Every time there is market movement, downturns, expected or not, a majority of the people panic and freak out. This usually leads to disproportionate reactions, immediate action instead of well thought-through plans. That’s a recipe for disaster, and it keeps going downhill. People panic and obsess over what they CANNOT control instead of focusing on what they CAN control.

But if you start looking around for people who are swimming through the waves like professional swimmers, or at least better than average, you can learn to do the same.

  • Regulate your breathing.
  • Stay calm.
  • Keep moving.

Focus on what you CAN control, and learn how to swim better.

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