During the festive season, my husband and I fled from wet London to sunny Florida. Miami, famous for its water sports, gave us the opportunity to try a range of water-based activities; some were loved and some were good experiences we will avoid in future. One day, we went surfing. These are the lessons I learned from a surfboard:
1) Strive for the basics; then strive for excellence. I could have spent two hours learning the perfect posture and motions of a surfer… I never would have made it into the water. Whatever the skill you are trying to hone; whatever the business plan you are trying to implement; whatever the personal change you intend to make in your life. Start with the basics and then – once you are comfortable – work on improving that development.
2) Take things at your own pace – regardless of what others may say. When on the board, in the water, my instructor was ready to send me off. Had I not paused him to clarify something, I would have fallen off my board in seconds. Taking the time to ensure I was comfortable was the difference between standing on my board and belly-flopping off it!
Generally our biggest supporters are also those who push us harder, further, more. We may not want to disappoint them, which can lead to trying to stand on our metaphorical surfboards before we can figure out how to balance on them. But one of the greatest qualities of this group of people is that they will understand if we said no, slow down, I’m not ready. They want the best for us but it’s up to us to decide what that ‘best’ is.
3) Be prepared. Even if it seems gentle when you start, the tide can turn and waves can come crashing down in an instant. Being swept underwater – not knowing up from down – is scary. You could avoid surfing altogether (thus avoiding the risk), but that familiar path will not lead to progression – an indisputable necessity in the 21st Century. Yes it’s risky, but it’s still better to dive in and do your best. But be aware and prepared in case the tide changes and the waves get stronger.
4) Get back on the board! I can almost guarantee that the first time you attempt to surf, you will fall off the surfboard. Granted, some fall more gracefully than others, but we all fall. From that point you have a choice: detach the surfboard and haul yourself out the water or stay and try again.
5) It may not be for you. That is okay. After a two-hour class, I know I can hold my own on a surfboard. However, I do not have any particular desire to go surfing again anytime soon. My husband, however, can surf circles around me. He is good. He enjoys it. I may not be the best surfer, but I am a fantastic cheerleader.
It is okay to try something and then decide you would rather focus your energies on another area, another skill, another field. Still, it never hurts to cheer others on as they continue down the path you left behind. That path may not be for you but it may very much suit them. Cheer them along; if nothing else, it’s better to have them on your side than not. Who knows when knowing a surfer could come in handy?