I want you to choose one thing for this year that you really want to do. Something that you’re scared as hell to take on. I want you to be comfortable with being out of control. Because that’s how you overcome your fears.
I want to share with you my story of learning how to surf. Five years ago, I decided to take on surfing. I lived in NYC and I still do, so surfing wasn’t the most practical goal. I wasn’t super strong and I didn’t have extra cash to put towards my goal.
It started out for vain reasons. I wanted to be cool and sexy. I wanted to belong to a group of people who had those qualities. Let’s be honest, surfing is cool. Shallow, I know. Deep down, I was really scared of surfing, so in that sense, my vanity was actually good for me. For some reason, my inner voice kept telling me I should try it.
I started talking about it with my friends. Some people had doubts about my surfing potential because of my lack of an exercise routine. While I was in decent shape, you couldn’t force me into daily exercise. I don’t gym or do personal training. Surfing is a very physical activity so I understood why my friends had their doubts. But I made up my mind to learn to surf regardless of what anyone else thought.
And I did….
I remember my first lesson, I was so exhausted that I couldn’t carry the surfboard and my instructor had to carry it for me. After my first lesson I knew it was gonna be a long journey. One of the problems was my control- freak personality. I wanted to control and predict the water so badly but, of course, that’s impossible. That was my first life lesson. Sometimes you have to let go because you can’t control everything. It’s about ACCEPTING and embracing those moments.
Another life lesson I learned from surfing was that life is about FINDING YOUR WAY. The more classes I took the more understood that I make a lot of assumptions. For instance, at first I thought you had to be in incredible shape to surf. More than being strong, you need to be brave and let go. My big discovery was that the more time I spent in the water, the more the ocean became my friend.
As Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.” That’s what I did for five years, I showed up for class after class. I showed COMMITMENT to surfing even though it was a struggle. That quality carried over to many different events in my life where I could’ve given up but didn’t.
Surfing forced me to be HUMBLE and KIND to myself. Every class I took had beginners in it. After five years, I should have been a pro. After every class, the beginners would succeed and I would fail. While it sucked at first, it was an amazing feeling when I finally accepted failure and gave myself permission to take as much time as I needed.
My final life lesson from surfing was to just BE ME. Me with a running nose, red eyes, and hair all over. A surfboard is no place to pretend to be perfect.
James Cameron said: “Failure is an option, fear is not”, I think fear is always there but eventually it becomes your friend. When you become friends with your fear, it lets you off the hook. This is the moment where you find yourself on the other side. Not too far from that is success. I will always remember the first time I actually rode a wave, it was totally worth the five years of the struggle.
Choose something you’re afraid of. Then fail forward until you succeed.