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)

About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. I also watch entirely too much Saved by the Bell, run marathons, and drink plenty of craft beer. Check out the work my company is doing at Proof Branding.