The Surfer’s Guide to Personal Development


A few years ago I wrote an article here about navigating the waters of life.

Surfers have a different relationship with the ocean than most people do. Rather than admire its beauty from the sidelines, we feed off its energy because for most of us it’s a second home.

We’re more comfortable in water than on land. It’s much more than a sport, but our calling in life. Every session leaves us with powerful life lessons and today I just wanted to share a few of my most important ones with you.

Live in the moment, but keep your eyes on the horizon

If there’s anything that surfing really teaches you it’s how to be present. When you’re on a wave you really can’t think bout another thing and if you do you will find yourself submerged rather quickly. But, the interesting thing is that you have to keep your eyes on the horizon and anticipate when the next wave will arrive. Life is kind of the same way. We need to live in the moment, while being mindful of our future goals and plans. However if live too far in the future our performance in the presence suffers.

Embrace the Unknown
Every single time you paddle for a wave you’re taking a risk because there’s no telling how it’s going to turn out. You’re either going to take a hard fall or experience the ride of your life. When you do catch that ride every sense of fear, doubt, and uncertainty disappears and you’re overcome by a sense of pure bliss that words can hardly describe. In life when when we’re willing take risks, and step into the unknown we dramatically raise our potential for the possibility of an extraordinary life. Everything you know and are confident in today was once an unknown that required a leap of faith. So embrace the unknown.

Learn to Shake The Wipeouts
If you want to ride waves you have to be ok with the occasional wipeout. In his recent graduation speech at U-Penn, Denzel Washington eloquently said “you will suck a something and you will fail.” That’s just a part of life and once you learn to realize that your failures don’t define you, but build character you can learn to shake the wipeouts.

All It Takes is One Good Wave
Talk to anybody who surfs and they’ll tell you their addiction started with that very first wave. Standing up for the first time is the hardest part of learning how to surf. But once you do, you can never get enough of that rush. Accomplishing anything in life is kind of the same. It might take a while for you to hit your stride, but once you do it will have been totally worth it and all it takes is one major milestone to establish your confidence and keep you pushing yourself to the next level.

There’s Always Another Wave Coming
The ocean teaches you abundance because there is always another wave coming. But if you’re too caught up in the one you missed or didn’t’ catch you won’t be there to catch your wave when it arrives. People talk quite a bit about missed opportunities. When you dwell on the past and the opportunities you missed, you’ll be looking back instead of seeing the opportunity that might be right there in front of you. So don’t sweat it when you miss your chance and believe at your core that there is always another wave coming.

Nature Rewards Patience
When you’re in the ocean you’re on mother nature’s schedule rather than your own. You learn to be extremely patient. In life we have a tendency to want to force the order in which things happen and we end up creating the very resistance that kills our flow. When we become patient and let nature take its course we’re able to navigate the waters of life with far more ease.

The ocean is an incredible teacher. There won’t be a single day that it doesn’t leave you humbled, grateful and slightly wiser.

Written on 11/15/2011 by Srinivas Rao. Srinivas is the author of the Skool of Life, where he writes about surfing, personal development, and things you never learned in school but should have. If you’re ready to to become a student, check out his FREE course on the 7 most valuable lessons they never taught in school. You can follow him on twitter @skooloflife. Photo Credit: Daniel Flower

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