in entrepreneurship

Ride the Wave

For the past three years, I’ve been hard at work. Hustling and trying to figure out how to successfully own and operate a business. And maybe more importantly, what role I want my work to play in my life.

And I have to admit, I’ve done pretty well for myself. (knock on wood)

But the secret to success doesn’t lie in a brilliant idea (though that helps) or an elite set of skills (also helps).

No, the secret to success – be it in running a business or living a life, is knowing how and when to get out of your own way.

It’s being able to ride the waves that will inevitably come. The tide that will at times, absolutely overwhelm you, and at other times, lead you to exactly where you want to and should be.

Between the crashes of the waves is where most get stuck.

  • Fearing incessantly about landing the next client.
  • Doubting one’s capacity to take on a project or pursue a goal that may not seem possible.
  • Watching a to-do list pile up, with seemingly no end in site.
  • Trying absolutely as hard as you can, only to, in the end, leave yourself or someone else disappointed.
  • Asking oneself, “Why did I ever get myself into this”. 
  • Wondering if, and when, things will ever get better.

These waves can be ridden to a wonderful, comfortable, and prosperous final destination.

But if you let them, they’ll absolutely destroy you. They’ll consume every thought, every action, and leave you struggling simply to keep your head above water. You’ll get burned out. You’ll struggle. You’ll fail.

I’ve never surfed and I no doubt would look ridiculous if I tried – but surfing, as a metaphor, fits perfectly here.

Because a surfer willingly puts him/herself into the choppy ocean, knowing it’s rough waters will present a huge challenge. And as the waves come crashing down, as the tide rises and current flows, knocking them from their board…

They get back up. They keep getting back up. They remember why they swam into the ocean to begin with. They embrace the beauty of the ugly. The focus on the end goal. Refusing to let one wave, no matter it’s size, stand in their way.

If you’re struggling to keep up with the tide. If you find yourself trapped in the current – remember that the successful ones, the people we admire, respect, look up to, and strive to emulate, aren’t always the best surfers.

They’re the ones who’ve jumped in and learned to ride the wave.

(Photo credit)

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  1. Matt, 

    It’s always interesting to hear a non-surfers perspective on surfing :). I think you’ve got a great metaphor/analogy here.  I hit a major wipeout in my business yesterday and while it wasn’t easy to handle, I realized that I could either keep my head buried under water or i could get up and start paddling for the next wave.  The thing about riding a wave is that once you’re on it, you have to go the direction it’s taking you. There are no brakes.  So you essentially have to go with the flow, until the wave ends.  If you resist what’s going on you wipe out. It is in many ways a profound methaphor for life and business. 

  2. Matt,

    Thanks for the Twitter follow! I came over to explore the interesting new twitter follower, and SLAM -> You’ve got a Duke Kahanamoku quote on the first page! Did you target me with that! LOL

    Great post mate. Nothing on this planet will give you perspective and confidence like surviving a wipeout where you fall 15 feet and then get pushed down another 15 ft underwater and are pressed against the coral reef like a bug until the ocean finally relents and allows you to struggle to the surface for a gasping breath! 

    But you know what? No matter how gnarly that slam was, you keep breathing. You get a new board and you’re a little tougher for it. Surfing is the greatest thing for self confidence! 

    I’m looking forward to reading more mate!