Skip to main content

by Todd Adams

I have always loved swimming, and I especially enjoy it as a form of exercise. For the last few years, I have been swimming laps in the pool every few weeks simply to mix up my workouts. I was at my fitness club a few months ago and they announced the introduction of a swimming team. I’ve never considered being part of a swim team – I believed it was for “people who are good at swimming and do triathlons.” Sure, a coach can help me improve my stroke, but I’m not training for anything – do I really care if my swimming efficiency improves? Plus, they swim at a specific time, and I like the freedom of swimming at a time that works for me, not being on somebody else’s schedule. But for some reason, I signed up.

Here’s how my weekly session typically goes: We meet at 7 AM on Thursdays. Our team is in the pool and our two instructors guide us through a warm-up, then a pre-set where they focus on a specific part of our swimming stroke. Then a main set where we are getting pushed hard, then finally a cool down.

When I swim laps alone, I find myself lazily swimming lap after lap and I am bored. An hour of swimming seems to crawl to its 60-minute conclusion. I am not learning anything and feeling just kind of blah. When I am swimming with my teammates, it is HARD – there is somebody behind me or in front of me pushing me, so I must keep going. I have a coach who is looking at my stroke and making suggestions on how to improve.

But here’s the thing – I love it. I am part of a community and I have a personal relationship with my coaches and other swimmers. It’s exciting to see if I can swim faster than I did last week, and my coaches help me keep track. I am with other swimmers who are doing their best as well. The hour flies by.

How does this relate to MenLiving? In a Zoom or in-person MenLiving space, I am in community with other men who are there to connect and become the best versions of themselves. Our meetings are scheduled, which means there is accountability. I am counting on other guys, and they are counting on me.

We discuss our challenges, but we also laugh a lot. These moments remind us to approach life with a sense of lightness, despite the pressure from our ego to be constantly productive and perform. I cannot do this alone (although our cultural conditioning would say otherwise). I am wired to do my personal growth work with other human beings whether it be a counselor, a coach, or in a MenLiving community space.

It simply doesn’t work as well when I am reading a self-help book or meditating on a cushion. If you’re personally challenged right now, I invite you to one of our spaces to receive the challenge and support you deserve. If your life is pretty good right now, I invite you to one of our spaces so you can challenge and support others.

At the end of the day, I am a more empathic and conscious human being when I am working in a community. I am at my best when surrounded by people. In the words of an African proverb: if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.


Todd Adams is the Co-founder and Executive Director of MenLiving and is the host of Zen Parenting Radio, a top-ten kids and family podcast on iTunes. You can reach Todd at


  • Mike says:

    Love it! Doing things, anything, is most often times better with others. Spot on post Todd!

  • Dear Todd, your post and the ML purpose remind of my favorite Rumi poem:
    On Being Woven

    The way is full of genuine sacrifice.
    The thickets blocking the path are anything
    that keeps you from that, any fear
    that you may be broken to bits like a glass bottle.

    This road demands courage and stamina,
    yet it’s full of footprints! Who are
    these companions? They are rungs
    in your ladder. Use them!

    With company you quicken your ascent.
    You may be happy enough going alone,
    but with others you will go farther and faster.

    Someone who goes cheerfully by himself
    to the customs house to pay his traveler’s tax
    will go even more lightheartedly
    when friends are with him.

    Every prophet sought out companions.
    A wall standing alone is useless
    but put three or four walls together,
    and they’ll support a roof and keep
    the grain dry and safe.

    When ink joins with pen, then the blank paper
    can say something. Rushes and reeds must be woven
    to be useful as a mat. If they weren’t interlaced,
    the wind would blow them away.

    Like that, God paired up creatures and gave them friendship.

    I am grateful for all you regular guys who are doing such important work in the world.
    Love, Marti Beddoe Hitzeman

  • todd adams says:

    Thanks Marti! I love Rumi, but haven’t read this poem 🙂

Leave a Reply