It’s 6:30am Sunday morning and I’m floating in the ocean.
The sun slowly creeps up over the horizon. There’s a soft breeze in the salty, tropical air. My eyes light up, my heart rate intensifies – there’s a wave coming my way.
I spin my board around. A few powerful strokes and boom, I pop to my feet. I gather myself for a second, adjust my feet slightly and go flying down the face of this moving wall of water as the wave peels open in front of me. I’m in the perfect position and feel confident, but I stand up too tall, lose my balance and whoosh, down I go into the ocean. I get tossed around for a few seconds under the water. It kinda feels good. A little morning wake-up call from the best alarm clock one could wish for.
I hop back on my board and paddle back to the line-up for some more surfing goodness.
This falling thing continues to happen many more times on this particular day. It’s frustrating as hell. I curse myself asking, what the hell am I doing? Just like the Chinese yin and yang symbol, my surfing experience is the perfect balance of pure joy and intense frustration. The exact recipe that seems to keep me coming back for more.
Why would I put myself through this self-inflicted torture day in and day out? Surely there are more productive things I could be doing than paddling around in the ocean and consistently falling on my face?
But then I think about it a little more. Where does this intense joy and passion come from? Why do I love it so much? What brings me back, day after day?
And then one day it hit me.
It’s the journey. It’s the process. That is what I love about surfing.
Literally and figuratively – It’s all about the ride.
The importance of building resiliency through falling.
The perspective of staying focused on the process of getting better.
The idea that you will look foolish and people will sling mud, but at the end of day, you cannot let that get in the way of what you set out to do!
Surfing is the perfect analogy to our journey here in life.
Let’s look into each one of these.
1) Failing often builds resilience
Every session there is failure. You literally fall down multiple times per hour. But you can’t let it phase you. You hop back up on that board and you paddle back for more. You learn from mistakes, and move forward.
As in life, you will fail – that is an inevitable fact if you’re actively putting yourself out there in the world. The resiliency comes from getting up and trying it again, and again. It’s the same as hopping on that board and paddling back into the line-up for more.
2) Focusing on the process and being patient
Rarely is there instant gratification in surfing. Sure, there are those waves that feel amazing when everything seems to line-up perfectly and you get in the zone and surf the wave great. But more times than not, it’s about adjusting on the fly, it’s tinkering with new methods, it’s tweaking body position – it’s a constant process that take an enormous amount of time to master.
It will be hard. It will be frustrating. But it’s being ok with that feeling of being uncomfortable. It’s about falling in love with that process. That’s the real reason I happily sprint back out into water every day and every week.
Truth: I love the process of getting better.
Just as in life, anything meaningful takes time to become something. You have to be patient, show up, and do the work. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes (shout out to my dad for this one):
Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”
― Chuck Close
3) Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
For the longest time, I had huge resistance to surfing a lot because I was concerned with what others thought. I used to think things like “oh man, I must look like a real dumbass.” Or “oh shit, I hope nobody saw that awkward long limbed fragile dude just face plant into the water.” I used to give a fuck. But not any more.
To get better in anything, surfing or in life, you really can’t give a fuck about what others think, say or do.
I now like to save my fucks for things that matter. Like being there for a loved one when they need me. Like pouring my heart and soul into my business so I can help someone out who might be struggling with their health or fitness goals.
Looking like a moron in the water, knowing I’m getting better every day – I don’t really give a fuck. Not even one.
Let me ask you this – What helps you get better at life? Is there a practice in your life that continues to challenge you? Would love to hear in the comments below.
Have a stellar weekend,