During the COVID-19 lockdown, our team discovered that we can easily work remotely. Soon, I came up with an idea of how to use this situation to my advantage — I decided to move my home-office to Lisbon for summer and then to Fuerteventura for autumn.
To exchange the lockdown and cold weather of Prague for a “beach office” was probably my best idea during this pandemic. My daily routines have changed and I’ve gained a different perspective. My new situation has boosted my mood and creativity and, best of all, I could also work on my surfing skills.
For me, surfing is the ultimate relaxation. When looking for the perfect wave, I am able to turn all my thoughts off and simply focus on the moment at hand. No more worries, troubles, what-ifs. In this precious time, I can truly enjoy my present self.
I’ve noticed that this beautiful sport is also a great metaphor for many life and career-related situations. Here are my TOP 5 lessons from the last few months.
You Go Where You Look
The first thing you learn after jumping in the surf is to look where you want to go. If you look at your board, you’ll simply fall down. If you look at that obstacle in your way, you’ll most likely hit it. This tendency is called “target fixation.” Your body’s feedback mechanism simply causes you to go where you look.
What you have to do instead is look beyond it. Look in front of you at the shoreline if you want to continue forward. Look left if you’re turning left. Look where you want to end up.
This is the key to achieving greater focus in your life. Overcoming all obstacles begins to feel inevitable. Push aside all the noise, the random daily distraction and negative self-talk, and focus on the goals you want to achieve.
It won’t be long until you notice your motivation increasing, your problems melt away and you’re approaching that desired shore.
Don’t Try To Catch Every Wave, You’ll Get Tired
One evening, I observed a group of beginner surfers. They were extremely excited and trying to catch every wave.
As a result, they actually missed the best waves hiding behind those average ones they decided to take. Soon, they got so tired that they couldn’t manage to catch even those average waves and gave up.
Similarly, life is full of opportunities and new ones are arising every day. Your job is to figure out which one to go after. Most of them are simply not worth it so give yourself the privilege of saying “no” often. But when the right one is coming, paddle stroke and give it all you got!
A Smooth Sea Never Made A Skilled Surfer
It was early morning at Ericeira. A strong swell was beating the cliffs and we were paddling through a narrow channel to the break. I have never fought bigger waves in my life. I got completely wiped out several times and ended up on the beach.
I decided I will catch at least one wave. I analyzed what I did wrong and discussed it with our instructor. At the end of the lesson, I managed to catch three waves. The next day when the sea got calmer, I was able to surf more waves than any of the other surfers. Normal waves suddenly felt slow and friendly.
Try to remember the period of your life when you made the biggest progress and grew as a person. Or when your company strengthened its processes and improved effectiveness. I bet it wasn’t a smooth process and not everything went as expected.
We get shaped primarily through tough experiences in life. It takes a lot of effort and pain but, in the end, we become more capable and it makes us stand apart from others.
Balance Is Important
Finding balance on your board isn’t always easy. The sea is constantly changing. Waves are coming from different directions, with different strength and speed. It’s an infinite endeavour of finding balance internally and adjusting your body.
Life also presents a constant struggle, trying to find your career/family/friends/health balance. If you stop maintaining it or voluntarily choose to lean too much to one side, you’ll likely crash or burn out. For me, the famous Steve Jobs’ quote “Stay hungry, stay foolish” is ultimately about this. Never get too comfortable, always work on balancing all aspects of your life and finding a better self.
When building a balance, proceed from the bottom up. Start with your foundation, place your feet well and stay low. Only when you find your balance, you can start rising without falling. With this strategy, you’ll be able to surf any wave that comes up.
Just Keep Paddling
Surfing is approx 70% of paddling, 20% of waiting, 7% of being washed out and only 3% of actually surfing and having that amazing time when you ride the wave…
Without the 70% of “hard-work” paddling, you can’t enjoy the 3% of surfing. Nobody else will paddle for you. It’s all up to you. If you don’t paddle fast enough, you’re not gonna catch the wave and there is nobody to point fingers at or complain about.
But at the same time, if you catch the wave, there is nobody to take your success. It’s all yours. You are the owner of the situation, of your actions and most importantly of your thoughts. You are the one who decides whether you’ll catch the next wave or not.
In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
Michal Langmajer is the Head of Product at Spendee. He found his passion at building digital experiences, hacking the growth and shaping the product strategies. You can find his articles on Medium here.
Disclaimer: This article was written by a contributor. All content is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the writer. If you’d like to contribute, you can apply here.