There we were, the three of us. The waves looked a bit tame on the beachcam, but @goedegolf reported 'good surf' and that's it. The beach was full of dogs and owners today, logical with a beautiful October sun. Once in the water we saw what the 'good surf' meant. A tight sea, with beautiful successive long and strong waves. The air smelled of sugar from the churros on the Pier, the perfect waves made rainbows over and over again through the sun, and the sky was sky blue. Look, this is my easy release: mess in the sea. Whether on a surfboard, sup or bodyboard (as above); throw me into the sea with a plank and I become zen.
We have been living very close to Scheveningen beach for 20+ years now, but when corona hit, we actually only really discovered the sea. In 2020 I started learning how to surf and that makes me very happy. It wasn't so much an end in itself, but more of a way to keep fit and spend some time in nature. I soon discovered that surfing is much more than just a fun sport. It's a mental challenge, a way of life, and I also discovered a metaphor for entrepreneurship. In this article I share the most important insights I've gained from surfing, and how they apply to entrepreneurship.
Shuffled on the beach
It is so cool to practice a sport on and in the water. The sea does not do what you want it to do, 'you just have to make do with it'. Sometimes you're floating for a long time for a good wave, only to mess it up without a chance. But if you manage to stand and surf it out: as happy as a child.
I now lie in the waves as often as possible with Mark and (long gone) mini. We all have a wetsuit and bodyboard. A bodyboard is a bit more accessible than my longboard/surfboard. You catch a wave and steer yourself along for as long as possible. Sometimes you are almost launched or, in a less favorable case, washed and shuffled back on the beach.
Parallel to entrepreneurship
It is exactly like Jon Kabat-Zinn's statement that (for me) draws a nice parallel to entrepreneurship: “You can't stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf” . As an entrepreneur you also come across a lot of (sometimes unpredictable) waves, where you can see the largest waves as a crisis or recession, for example. Such things are often unstoppable, but fortunately you can learn to deal with them. And that's what I can help you with again. I can't teach you how to surf, but I can teach you how to do business.
Almost drown and grow
If I extend the comparison to my own surfing adventure, it's nice to see how many similarities you encounter. For example, I first found the sea terrifying, because in my youth I sailed a lot and then I almost drowned. But with learning to surf, that fear has been overcome. Talk about growth! Even though a little surfing didn't get me a turd, I may have lost that fear of water for good.
Super clumsy falling into the water
The first weeks/months I felt like a jerk during the surf lessons. Because I didn't pick it up that easily. If I did manage to stand up once, I often lost my balance and then fell super clumsy like a starfish into the water. And yet… there was progress. The pop-up (standing on your surfboard to catch a wave) went a little better and the fun grew as a result.
And then it goes well a few times until… the sea is so rough that you almost pee into your wetsuit from your nerves. The sky is gray, the current is huge, the surf is HIGH and that fun surfing suddenly looks more like survival than a cheerful water sport. If you still go, then the victory is extra big if you succeed. And exactly that, challenging yourself and persevering, precisely when it seems impossible, that's what I love about surfing and doing business.
Do you want to see me/us mess in the water? On the beach cam you can often see us lying in the water near Patagonia #workhardplayharder
The 4 important insights
I puzzled over it for a while, but I came to these four important insights when you compare surfing and doing business.
Insight 1 - Surfing and doing business are both a calling
Because it is by far not the easiest choice you make. With both you have no idea what you're getting yourself into. No matter how well you prepare - the proof is in the pudding , as with so many adventures you embark on. The biggest step in both surfing and doing business is the moment you lose your heart and make the choice that you are going to do it.
Insight 2 - Fall down and get up stronger
Of course, trial and error applies to everything you learn. But with surfing it is very well on top. I noticed that I'm really a go-getter, so much so that I ended the season with a bruise on my face and a nasty inflammation in my shoulder. I had gone too far against my better judgment for several weeks with a storm. Countless times I had been washed away by a wave. With physio and exercises it took months until everything was okay again. In the meantime I started to delve more into the theory and immediately improved my condition. This way I could go into the sea fresh again in the new season.
Insight 3 - When boredom strikes you stand still
Often you keep something fun if you keep getting challenge out of it. Once you've mastered a skill, move on and don't get stuck in it. Because standing still means going backwards, and you also risk a bore out . Not to be confused with a burnout, by the way. Both with surfing and doing business, it is best to freak out with a new step.
"Help, with these waves/on this small board/into the sea without an instructor for the first time?!" vs "Help, have a new branding designed/raise my prices/clean up the collection radically?!"... By the way, with waves that are too small you literally stand still.
Insight 4 - With the right professional help you will reach your goal much faster
For example, with a good series of surf lessons you will not only learn how to surf, but also about the sea and how to use it in the safest way. You learn to recognize rip currents and what you can do with them, about the tides and the current. In addition to learning to stand on your board, it is equally important that you know what to do if you fall and what you do best with your breath underwater. Or how about getting through the waves of the surf with a board? Learned it on YouTube really doesn't apply here, and that's exactly how it is with business. You can shout very loudly "I've never done it, so I think I can do it" (Pippi, I know), but with the right guidance you will reach your goal faster and you will be able to enjoy doing business sooner yourself.
Do you also want to learn how to surf?
At Surfscool I did my first lesson season a few years ago and that is definitely recommended. Hartbeach and Aloha are also a few nice surf schools from the many good options on the Scheveningen coast!
Long story short
In short, life is too short not to challenge yourself. It's too short not to look for where you go from ON. And it's also way too short to keep plodding alone, while there are people who are happy to help you on your way. Look around you, find a guideline and are you curious how I can help you? Then take a look at the page with more information about custom 1-on-1 business coaching .
Hopefully the following is not the case for a long time and we can continue for a while. The good news for you as an entrepreneur is that you don't have to take a winter break!