Life Lessons In Surfing


Last year I decided to take up surfing.

It’s freaking hard.

Surfing is unlike any other sport I’ve ever tried.

It’s packed with analogies and life lessons.

While I’m out in the water, I spend time reflecting on those similarities.

Here are a few:

1. Positioning is everything

Surfing: The most experienced surfers paddle the least. They’re simply great at reading waves and catching them at the perfect spot. They paddle a little bit, and boom they’re up.

Life: Working smart beats working hard. Warren Buffett reads six hours a day. He analyzes his options and is selective. But he also isn’t paralyzed by inaction. It’s great to study, but it’s just as important to know when to commit and go for it.

2. The environment decides

Surfing: It’s unlike any other sport. In basketball, baseball, gymnastics, etc… you work with a static environment. But in surfing the environment changes by the second. It tests your ability to adapt, stay positive, patient and malleable.

Life: One day you’re on top of the world and the next you step in shit first thing in the morning. You’re dealt a new deck of cards every day. Your job is to play it to the best of your ability.

3. You’re gonna get smacked

Surfing: The ocean is merciless and random. It’ll pummel you wave after wave. Especially in the beginning when you don’t know what you’re doing. Hence why so many give up.

Life: This is where I get to use that famous Rocky quote, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

4. There’s always a new wave coming.

Surfing: Sometimes you’ll see the perfect wave coming and you’ll just miss it or screw it up. Or you’ll see another surfer catch an incredible one right next to you and you’ll wish you were on it. But no matter what, there’s always a new wave coming, and if you stick around, you’ll get another shot.

Life: It’s so easy to get down on yourself when you screw up a great opportunity. But remember that there’s always another one coming. So don’t get too attached or obsessed thinking this is the only shot you’ll ever get. Just be on the look out for the next one.

5. You earn it.

Surfing: After months and months of agony, of wipeouts, of thinking you’re just awful but persisting nonetheless…you catch that wave. And suddenly, life stops. All that pain and doubt was worth it. You glide through the water. Pure bliss. Pure reward.

Life: There’s a reason lottery winners end up depressed, broke, and worse off then they were before their jackpot…they didn’t earn it. To truly appreciate a win you have to take the hits and keep going. You have to be able to look back at a mountain of work and sacrifice and smile at the person you’ve become.

I surf 3 to 4 times a week now.

I’m addicted.

Some days it sucks and some days I can’t believe my luck.

But either way I always leave the water with a lesson in hand.

The truth is, we’re all thrown into the ocean when we’re born.

And we can’t stop the waves from coming.

But we can learn to ride them.