4 WORK&LIFE LESSONS FROM SURFING

For Luis & Audrey

Exceptionally, writing this blog in English. Nächstes Mal wieder auf Deutsch.

Surfing for me is the most difficult sport I ever tried. I am trying already for years, with changing intensity and dedication. It is a long story of failing, succeeding, being crazy happy on the wave or sitting crazy frustrated and crying at the beach because it was not working as I wanted it. It is a long story of salty hair, sun burn on my nose, sandy feet and smiles. It is basically like life.

This year, I wanted to focus more on surfing again and traveled solo for two weeks to Portugal this May. That time I was paddling out with Luis and Audrey, the two best surf teachers I ever met. After 20 minutes in the water in the first session, Luis said something to me which triggered me thinking so much about - "You expect too much from yourself!" How could he know that after 20 minutes? Actually, he is right. I always do that. And throughout the 2 weeks, they said several of those "too true" sentences to me. So I wonder - can I learn something for work and life from surfing?

Lesson 1: Don't be so hard with yourself and expect too much from you.

I have been surfing on the indoor wave in Berlin quite often this winter. I got able to make turns there. First time I paddled out to the ocean, I wanted to do catch a wave on my own, do the perfect take off, have a great waves from the start, make a turn on the wave and so on. In my head I put all of these goals the same time and what happend? I failed in all. I got furstrated. For the next session, Luis gave me 3 things including a priority grade what I should focus on. And one after the other - tick tick tick. It worked. By the way - the first thing on the list was "relax".

Lesson 2: Go with the flow - you cannot control everything.

The ocean is there - no matter if you are there. The waves will come - no matter if you are there. The waves will break where the nature makes it break - no matter if you are at the wrong or right spot. Sometimes, you are sitting at the right spot, sometimes at the wrong spot. Especially surfing on beach breaks, the situation is changing all the time. No matter if you are ready or not. So either, you surf the wave you get or you just observe other people having fun. So either, you get active and get out of the tricky situation or you get smashed by the wave. I was often not having waves and I often got smashed and I still do. I love planning and controlling - I work in finance. However, planning and controlling is not always realistic in surfing, in life, at work or your business plan. So better to learn how to make the best out of what life offers you and go with the flow.


Lesson 3: Step by step - be proud of every little learning you do.

The one day, the waves were a bit bigger and more difficult for me. It was windy, the current was strong. I was more busy with paddling then with surfing because the situation was changing all the time and I did not know how to position myself in the water. And then boom - a bigger wave came and I got smashed. Then I focused so much on not getting smashed anymore which worked by the end of the lesson but I was sad that I did not surf many waves. "But Anne, you learned how to not get smashed by the waves. This is a life saving skill. It is important to learn that too." said Luis to me. So even when you did not learn what you wanted to learn, you might make progress in other things.

Lesson 4: Trust yourself and face your fears. You will make it.

It is again about the bigger waves. I really love the tiny smooth waves and I feel comfortable in that water in those conditions. But I get scared when the waves are getting a tiny bit bigger. In the one session, exactly this happened and we had to paddle further out. The shore was farer away than usual due to the tides, I did not feel good and I was afraid because I thought I cannot surf in those conditions. I gave up, paddled back to the shore and cried at the beach. The next week, the conditions were similar that one day. By the time, I learned how to not get smashed, my take off and paddling got better but I was still scared of the tiny bit bigger waves. So I avoided them all the time. Luis wanted to push me to the bigger ones but I always said "No no, better not". And then, at some point, he just pushed me and I had no choice but surfing that wave - and I succeeded to my surprise. When I paddled back to Luis and Audrey, they said "You can see the situation now in 2 ways - either you say wow this was scary. Never do it again. The other option you have is being proud of yourself that managed facing your fears and trust in your skills. Your choice."

PS: You might wonder why there are no pictures of me surfing when I talk about surfing - well, there are just no surf pictures existing :)

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