What surfing can teach you about life

April 22, 2013

I am no beach bum, but aspire to be one. Last summer I went to Lisbon with my co-founder and some of our friends from Paris—beautiful city with perfect weather, really nice people and great food. We went to the beach to go surfing. It was my first time and didn't know what to expect. All I knew is that it was probably going to be more difficult than I remembered.It proved to be as difficult as I anticipated but I loved every second of it. I probably got on my board about 3 out of 25 times. However, it becomes addicting to keep trying. It made me think…surfing is a great life analogy. You could probably relate this to personal life but I'll focus on decision-making as it relates to work (mainly).What does surfing teach you about life?

Choosing the right wave

The first thing I had to learn was to choose the right wave. I can't tell you how many times I got on a wave that seemed good from a distance, and was too small to even go anywhere. On the flip side, I passed on a lot of waves which turned out to be great ones I should have jumped on. The perception of something from the distance skewed what it actually was as it approached closer. As I got more experience observing waves, I was able to make more confident judgments.

Committing

One thing is certain: You cannot half-commit on a wave. When you see a wave you want to take, you have to start paddling with your arms full speed and go 100% even if it is not the ideal wave. I think this is often true when it comes to life. When you decide on something, you need to see it through with no regrets, because hesitation can often be the first step to failure. At the same time, you can decide on pass on something, but you felt it was the right decision at the time.

Going full force until success or failure

They say in the startup world, that you want to fail quickly. Why? Because you want to get to the point where you realize if something is worth doing or not without wasting too much time or money. The results were really apparent for me; either I get on the board or fall off immediately.

Learn from successes and failures, and try again

After each attempt, I thought to myself, "What did I do wrong? Did I try to stand up too soon (or late)? Was the wave not good enough?" I take each experience and remember it for my next attempt. I think about this when our Xhatch team works on client projects. We talk about what we did well, and what we could do better. Even in the most successful projects, there are always things we could have done better.If I were to ever plan a team-building retreat, it would be taking the whole team surfing.