What Surfing taught me About Life and Success

portugal-surfLast month my husband and I went to California for vacation (it was our California Road Trip EXTRAVAGANZA!). While we were there we took the opportunity to take a couple surf lessons at a great place in Santa Cruz. I didn’t realize it at the time, but our instructor Ed wasn’t just teaching us how to surf, he was teaching us about life. Here are some of the lessons that stuck out the most for me:

  1. Fear is the destroyer of success
    That first day we went surfing was grueling. The swells were incredibly strong and to be perfectly honest, they were terrifying. After a while, my fear – I don’t even know what exactly I was afraid of was it drowning? Falling? Getting hurt? Was it all of the above? – consumed me and I could no longer function. I spoke to Ed about it, and we tried all sorts of techniques to calm me down. But nothing was working. I allowed my fear to get the best of me and told him I was ready to go back to the beach.  My fearless husband stayed out in the ocean with a friend of Ed’s until he got back…
  2. Without perseverance you’re just another person on the beach watching everyone else have fun
    On my way back to shore with Ed we decided I was just too afraid to focus that day. We decided it would be best to come back the following day, when the waves would be calmer. I was happy about that decision. Especially when I was that person on the beach watching everyone else have all the fun. The following day my husband and I went back in the water with our wonderful teacher for another lesson. This time was INCREDIBLE! The waves were so different, the mood was different. The world was different! Both of us were able to actually stand up on our boards and ride the wave all the way in.
  3. Before taking action, clear your head of negativity
    Once I began to get the hang of things that second day,  I noticed something powerful. The minute I began thinking negatively or started doubting my ability to do this, I would fall right off that board. But when I focused on what I had to do, I would ride that wave all the way in.
  4.  Patience is crucial
    Sometimes it can take upwards of 20 minutes to catch a really good wave. You have to be patient and wait. Sometimes, a decent enough wave comes your way and you have to ask yourself “is it better to be patient and do this right, or to go at the first inkling of a wave and miss the boat entirely?” You learn very quickly out there to wait. Believe me; swimming against the tide to get back to where you were isn’t easy; which leads me to my next point…
  5. Something may be difficult, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun
    Surfing is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was also the most fun. A sense of humor and a good outlook not only made those two days of surfing loads of fun, it also made us more successful. Like I said before, negativity wears us down and impairs our ability to succeed.
  6. Take the time to do something that makes you truly happy each day
    That second day we went surfing, we started bright and early – around 7AM. By the time we got in the ocean there were surfers everywhere.   At one point, a gentleman came over to Ed and explained to us that Ed had taught him to surf nearly 20 years ago. After talking to us for a little bit he said he had to get going to work. And it hit me and my husband like a ton of bricks. This guy gets up early every morning to do something he absolutely loves before he goes to work. My point is, not all of us are lucky enough to have a job we love. But most of us do have something we love to do. Carve out some time during your day to do something you love, and I guarantee your happiness will grow.
  7. Sometimes, encouragement from a stranger is the best motivation there is What has stuck with me the most from this experience wasn’t the community surrounding these surfers in Santa Cruz – they all seemed to know each other, there was a true sense of camaraderie, and they all just wanted to have a good time – although that was certainly impressive and warmed my heart. What really stuck out the most was the encouragement they gave to me and my husband. They all knew from our “Club Ed student” shirts that we were novices, but they didn’t get annoyed with us, on the contrary, we were given words of support and we were praised for our efforts.  By the middle of that second lesson my body was stiff, I was sore, and it was getting harder and harder to swim back out to the ocean. But those words of encouragement from complete strangers gave me the extra push I needed to keep doing it, to keep trying.
This entry was posted in Change Management, Coaching, Employee Development, Leadership, Leadership Development and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What Surfing taught me About Life and Success

  1. Mimzy says:

    It’s so much fun to see people learning the same things I glean from my Yoga practice while doing something completely different!

  2. Joseph Hines says:

    What a great life lesson!

    Sent from my iPhone

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