The Four Life Lessons Observing Your Experiences Through The Eyes Of A Big-Wave Surfer

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At the beginning of 2021, Rita (Co-Founder of Impactology) and I committed to an activity that we believed, would satisfy a small but important need in our Impactology community.  Sharing a short, sharp daily impact tips, that gets you (and us!) thinking and hopefully spark some inspiration and action that makes a difference.

Whether it is writing this blog, my assigned daily tip or putting the finishing touches on our new book, the discipline of writing everyday has been an amazing outlet for me.

What has been the most positive part of this experience?
I didn’t expect it, but I am more observant of my daily experiences: what happens around me, my actions, how I plan and what I could do differently. It has magnified my habits and in particular, the ones that need to change. The kind of habits that are now annoying me enough to do something about them. Some of them have snuck in as a daily impact tip – call it a gentle reminder to self!

And, not all tips are created equal.  There is one recent tip (Day 149/365 Impact Tip) that has forced me to think more deeply, particularly when we consider the uncertainty and unpredictability that surrounds our world today.   

The theme of the Impact Tip was, “Get Big Wave Ready”, which focused on the importance of relentlessly focusing on preparation, both mental and physical, when chasing a goal in an unpredictable environment.   




It was a lazy weekend and I was watching TV and saw a story on big wave surfers.  It reminded me of the brilliant 2004 documentary I saw many years ago, ‘Riding Giants’, which focused on the growth and emergence of big wave surfing.   

Big wave surfers are extreme athletes, who show extreme bravery and courage.  They endanger their lives every time they enter the water. Imagine being chased by a 10-metre wave travelling at 50 mph (80 kmh)?! what isn’t so obvious, is they are also the ultimate planners. They have a relentless focus to preparation, balancing their mental preparation and getting their body big wave ready.

So what can we learn from a big wave surfer’s discipline and habits, that can make an impact in your life as you chase your next goal and biggest adventure?



Here are the four big-wave life lessons:
1. Always Wear A Flotation Vest
A floatation vest can bring you to the surface and save your life when you’ve been wiped out by a monster wave. In life, managing your risks doesn’t mean you don’t take risks…know your downside and put supports (people and resources) around you to rise to the surface when things don’t go to plan.

2. Always Use Fear To Your Advantage
Managing your fear in big wave surfing is key to making the countless micro-second decisions and keeping your wits when navigating a big wave. The same rules apply in life: learn to manage and understand fear: overcome the powerful sense of panic and lose of control whilst we seize opportunities that otherwise we would avoid.

3. Study The Ocean
Big wave surfers and their teams collate information, such as wave patterns, the ocean bottom and weather conditions before they paddle out into the ocean. Knowledge is power when it informs decision making. Before taking on your next project, understand your external environment and the potential areas where you might wipe-out or find your next big wave.

4. Learn How To Wipe Out
Things don’t always go to plan. Big wave surfers know this and have strategies when they get crunched by a big wave – they jump away from their board, avoid nose diving into the ocean, protect their head and keep calm. What will you do when a big wave crunches some of your plans? How will you react?

American professor, John Kabat-Zinn wonderfully summarises life: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”  Observe your daily experiences with discipline.  Get yourself big wave ready as you paddle out to find your next big adventure.

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