“Well I’m always working on everything constantly. I never take the approach that I’m doing as well as I possibly can… I always think there’s more and I think if you don’t have that, you are not driven to be better.”
Kelly Slater, Professional Surfer, Nine Times World Surfing Champion.
Thank you to the inspirational Jonathan Fields
This post was inspired by an article Jonathan Fields wrote, The Surfer’s Guide To Entrepreneurial Bliss. Jonathan Fields is the author of, Career Renegade, and his blog, Awake At The Wheel, has amazing insights on all kinds of things as well as a great picture of his feet snugly encased in a pair of flower slippers topped off by hairy legs. At least I think they’re his feet.
As well as having a sense of humour, Jonathan writes well and provides:
“Tips, strategies and conversations at the crossroads of work, life, entrepreneurship and play.”
I always enjoy a good read when I visit his blog and I particularly loved The Surfer’s Guide To Entrepreneurial Bliss. After reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about how the philosophy, sport and art of surfing has something to teach us about living life to the full, not just about being an entrepreneur and running a business.
Surfing Makes Me Happy
I took up surfing at 39. I’d wanted to learn to surf for years and when the opportunity presented itself on the island of Bocas del Toro in Panama, I knew it was now or never. Imagine learning to surf in the warm Caribbean sea with a patient, encouraging and stunning teacher. It’s not surprising with those conditions that after three lessons I was hooked.
I’ve only been surfing about 18 months now and I’m not that good, but I can stand up on a wave and I have fun. To me that’s what it’s all about. Surfing holds a few keys to happiness for me because it:
- Keeps you totally in the moment.
- Puts you in touch with the elements and nature.
- Challenges you mentally and physically.
- Wears you out so you sleep well.
So here’s my take on lessons surfing can teach us about living life to the full.
1. You’re never too old too try something new
I learnt to surf late in life. I’m never going to be a pro surfer but who cares? I have fun and just getting out there in the waves is invigorating. You’re never too old to learn something new as long as you know your limits, start small and make sure you can swim first.
2. Fear is normal
We’re only human. Doing something new, something you’ve never done before is scary. Until you try it, at which point you’re too busy doing it to be afraid any more. If you think about surfing or tackling anything new in life what’s the worst thing that can happen? A black eye, a chipped tooth, a massive bruise on your thigh? Those things are a possibility but so much better than sitting on the beach and just watching everyone else have all the fun.
Giving things a go and facing your fear will give you renewed confidence in all areas of your life.
3. It Takes Time, Baby
You’re not going to be a great surfer over night. In fact, you might be like me in which case you’ll never be great at it. But, like most things in life worth doing, you’ll never be any good at all if you don’t practice regularly and stick at it. We all have times when we’re not really in the mood, we think you’ll never be any good or we just can’t be bothered to try any more. Force yourself, get out there and give it a go. You’ll be glad you did. Don’t make excuses – being tired, too busy, bad weather.
Just keep going and don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re doing something at all, you’re already doing well.
4. Expect to Have Wipe Outs
When you surf you always push the limits, try new things and make mistakes. When you have a wipe out it’s scary – you’re pushed underwater, you can’t tell up from down and you don’t know where your board is. But generally you pop back up again and live to try again. Surfing is like life. When you have set backs just get back on your board and paddle back out to the break and have another go.
You’re going to have wipe outs, make mistakes, judge the wave wrong or get caught on the wrong side of a big one. Ouch. It hurts but it happens to everyone, it’s called a learning curve.
5. Keep Studying the Waves
It takes years to really understand how the waves will break, where and when. Once you’ve been doing something for years you start to get an edge – it’s called experience. Just when you think you know everything there is to know a rogue wave will come along and put you back in your place.
We’re always learning, growing and changing, and so are our circumstances and opportunities. That’s what makes life interesting.
6. Ignore the Grumpy People
There are a few of them in the waves. There might be some in your office, in your group of friends or even in your family. They’re the kind of people who don’t want to share the water with newcomers, or anyone. They think that there aren’t enough waves to go round. They think that someone else is to blame and it’s never their fault.
Take no notice, some people are like that and no matter how hard you try to please them, you never can because they’re unfriendly and grumpy. There’s room for everyone in this world if we all take turns and share, don’t let people with a bad attitude get you down.
7. Find Happy People To Hang Out With
Just like life, surfing is more fun with friends. Good friends will encourage you to carry on when you’re about to give up. They’ll celebrate your successes with you and commiserate with you when you have problems. They’ll watch your back when a gnarly wave is coming your way, they’ll tell you when a good set of waves is coming in, they’ll whoop with glee when you catch a good wave and ride it right into the shore. Best of all you’ll be able to do the same for them.
Being surrounded by people you care about enriches your life in unexpected ways
8. Dress Right
Dress for the occasion – wear clothes that are comfy and will stay on. Otherwise you won’t be able to relax and enjoy yourself because you’ll be too worried that you’re giving someone an eye full or exposing more than you’d like to.
9. Have Fun
Think you could never surf? Think again – here I am surfing In Costa Rica – I’m heaps better now (she lied)
No matter if it’s your first time in the surf or you’re a seasoned pro the most important rule is to have fun. Kelly Slater, world surf champion nine times once said:
“The best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.”
Is that true of life too? Do you think that your life will be better if you achieve conventional success and financial wealth? Or would it be better if you laughed longer, harder and more often? Don’t take it surfing or life too seriously. Enjoy it. Have fun.
Thanks again to Jonathan Fields for the inspiration and a big thank you to Chuck Chastain for letting me use the amazing photo of him surfing. Chuck is living his dream in Costa Rica with his beautiful family. He spends his time surfing, playing poker and helping people find their dream Costa Rican property. If you’re visiting Costa Rica or would like to, get in touch with Chuck for real estate and surfing tips. He’s a top guy and you’ll be glad you did. I don’t think he’ll share his poker tips with you but if he does, let me know.
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