We spent Labour Day weekend in Tofino/Ucluelet. Since I started dating a surfer, it’s become a tradition to head up there for a few days before we get back into fall routines. Lots of good times are had, hanging out at the beach, campfires, guitars… you get the idea. This was maybe my 7th or 8th time surfing. The first time was so long ago I don’t really remember it. I went twice in South America (Peru and Uruguay), both times with an instructor, and then a couple more times in Tofino. I’m still not very good at surfing. Put me on a snowboard and I’m great; I’m also pretty decent on a wakeboard, but
when it comes to surfing, my fear of getting pummelled by the ocean waves takes over.
Last weekend I had a mini breakthrough with my fear of surfing and realized a few key lessons, that apply to life and business.
Usually I keep to the shallows where I can stand and hop on the board when I feel ready to paddle – once I catch a small wave, I can usually stand up and ride it, which is fun, but I spend a lot of time fighting through waves and then panicking trying to paddle quickly to catch something to make it worth my while.
It was Sunday afternoon and I had done some playing around in the water, when Matty asked if I wanted to go out with him. I said okay, a bit hesitantly.
We fought our way through the white water. When we got to the bigger waves, he suggested rolling over so the board was on top of me and the wave could pass by (which sort of worked), then I scrambled back up on the board and paddled feverishly towards the next approaching wave until we finally made it ‘past the break’. Interestingly, it is much easier to paddle on a long board (what I was using) than a short board (what Matty was using) because they are more buoyant and light, despite their size. I watched Matty fall behind as I was paddling and I realized it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was (or I’m stronger than I think I am).
So here we are.. past the break and my heart is pounding out of my chest. I focused on deep breaths and noticed where I was – out with all the real surfers!
While we were chilling out, sitting on our boards, and Matty was explaining to me how to catch a wave I started thinking about all the ways surfing is like life, and business.
1. Your mindset effects your results and how much fun you have
as we were walking into the water I noticed the negative swirl of thoughts going through my brain. “I’m never going to be good at surfing,” “I’m too scared,” “It’s too hard,” “I’m not cut out for this sport,” “I hope Matty won’t mind if I never get good at surfing,” etc. Wow. I don’t let my mind dwell on the negative in other areas of my life, why was I letting it happen here? I had to do a major check yourself before you wreck yourself mindset reset. Thinking these thoughts was immediately putting me in a self-imposed weak and victim-y position; no way to be if you want to charge after waves and stomp on them! I tried to let go of my limiting beliefs and focus on the positives: brilliant blue sky and sunshine above me, clean and beautiful water, sandy beach, the love of my life beside me, his smile… I started feeling better and I started enjoying myself. Huge win! Sound like life??
2. You have to get uncomfortable
If you’ve ever put on a wetsuit, you know what I’m talking about. Especially one you surfed in yesterday that didn’t fully dry out. Sometimes the weather is depressing and horrible. Then there’s the first few steps in the water and the creeping chill of the sea water as it enters your wetsuit. The first dunk or pummel of a wave that sends saltwater into your mouth or nose. Sometimes you are tossed around in a wave to the point where you emerge feeling shaken, scared, and gasping for air. But without pushing through these uncomfortable moments, you can never feel the exhilaration of riding your first wave. Being uncomfortable is the only way to GROW.
Have you noticed how sometimes the preparations for a big career or business move are time consuming, annoying or difficult and because of that you procrastinate doing anything? Well, you’re certainly not going to catch any sick waves if you don’t get out of your comfortable bed, put on your wetsuit and get in the water and the same goes for life.
3. You have to be coachable
I hear this and say this all the time in my business. But was I applying it to surfing? Not really. When I finally opened up to the coaching being offered by Matty; listened and did what he told me, we made it past the break and I eventually caught a real wave. This is a great reminder for me to check in on how coachable I am being in my day to day life.
4. Sometimes it takes a lot of work to get to the point of experiencing pure joy & bliss, and then things are easy
I have this weird belief that I have to work really hard to be successful. I am aware of it, and aware that it’s not entirely true, but it lingers and spills over into other areas of my life – like surfing. So here I am, struggling in the shallows with waves continuously crashing on me, too scared to paddle through them and thinking that I’m in a safer position closer to shore… when really, there is total ease and grace lying just past these crashing waves. I realized this as I sat on my board, watching the other ‘real surfers’ hang out, casually adjusting position based on the approaching waves, but pretty much relaxing. Why did it take me so long to get out here? But that’s how most of us learn. We do things the long, hard, stressful way first, and then when we finally listen to the people who know what they’re doing and become coachable, we can experience the joy and bliss of catching a wave, or achieving our dreams. No big deal.
Just in case you’re a rookie surfer like me, but ready for some tips and ready to expand your comfort zone, I found this video about how to get past the break 😉