There was once a boy who grew up in a town with few places to swim. So he never really learned how.
One day, he traveled far away to a beach where he saw the ocean for the first time. He and a friend decided to go into the water. They waded out further than the boy was comfortable swimming, but his friend persuaded him to keep venturing out.
A big wave pushed them out past the point where he could feel the ocean floor with his toes. As they bobbed up and down with the passing waves, the boy began panicking.
He hid his nervousness well--until his friend yelled, "Shark!" and began dashing towards the shore. Not knowing if it was a joke, the boy became petrified, and began frantically swimming behind his friend. But he seemed to be stuck. The harder he swam, the further he drifted out.
The boy was quickly tiring, and he began to fear the worst. He was either going to drown, or get attacked by a shark, or both.
As the water grew colder and darker, the boy heard a clear voice from deep within, instructing him to change course and start "swimming to the side." With his last bit of energy, the boy began swimming parallel to the beach. And after a short while, he found himself getting closer to the shore.
He finally emerged from the sea and sat down next to his friend, saying nothing about what had just happened. As he gazed out at the ocean, he quietly thanked the voice that guided him back to safety.
Later, the boy discovered that he was caught in a "riptide," and that the best thing to do when you're in a riptide is to swim to the side.
That boy was me. And now that I'm older (and a much better swimmer), I know without a doubt that the voice I experienced years ago on Miami Beach was the voice of inner guidance. It delivered the right solution when I needed it most.
What was also interesting was when I got the directive to swim to the side, I didn't know what would happen next. And that's how the inner voice works--it directs us towards the unknown. It leaves us with an opportunity to trust that whatever happens next will be for our highest and best good.
Sometimes, listening to the inner voice is a matter of life and death. So we want it to be loud and clear. And the way to turn up the volume is to heed its wisdom when it sounds soft and barely perceptible. I've found that by following it again and again, the still small voice becomes increasingly clear and more distinct over time.