Recently I was in Los Angeles with some pretty amazing team members: Teresa Duke and Amy Chandy.
And since we were in SoCal, we all agreed on two musts – good food and the beach. Ok, and ice cream. We took a walk down to Manhattan beach and out onto the pier. As we were taking in the amazing weather, the incredible sun, and the ocean breeze, I noticed something.
There were three guys on short boards just floating in the water. As they floated for at least five minutes, I though to myself, maybe this is the new way to hang out. Grab a board and a wet suit and just…..float. I kept looking at the water and the rolling waves didn’t seem like they would produce enough to push a milk jug to shore, much less surf on.
Closer to shore there was a young boy playing in the water behind the surfers. He was quite happy with the very small waves that he was playing in. The smile on his face couldn’t have been removed with a crowbar…or something less violent that still makes the point.
Then all of a sudden they started getting ready. When I looked out at the water, it sure didn’t look any different than it had for the last five minutes. One of the guys turned around on his board as if a Tsunami was headed his way. Me, still dumbfounded at the concept. But then it happened, out of nowhere a wave formed large enough for him to surf!
He got up and started carving when he noticed the little boy behind him and had to drop out of it. But he was surfing, if only for thirty seconds! I continued to watch the surfers as they watched the waves. A few minutes later, another decent size wave showed up.
What amazed me was, looking at the waves with my untrained wave watching eyes, I thought these guys were just wasting time. But what did I know? As I stood there, I thought of you guys and sharing what I was learning.
- Just float in the water – It’s ok to not be moving at the speed of light every minute of every day. Even when you’re in the process of doing something. I think so many people are frustrated with fishing because the ROI isn’t instant. Apparently sometimes it’s the same way with surfing. Grab some friends and just float in the water.
- Experience matters – Only guys who have studied the waves would know what to look for. Me, not so much. I looked at them and thought they were silly. Who’s the silly one now? (Said in sarcastic tone.)
- Carve it up! – When the right wave finally comes, turn your board and ride that bad boy. Don’t miss out on the opportunity.
- Be aware – Sometimes people or things get in our way and crush our great ride. (You can tell I’m not a surfer.) When that happens, drop off and start all over again. No point in allowing it to ruin the high of the moment. There’s another wave in a few minutes.
I definitely have to say that the walk on the pier turned out to be considerably more valuable than I would have imagined. Plus, I’ve come to realize, I definitely need to learn how to surf!
Question: How many times have you missed the wave completely?
45 thoughts on “Life Is Spent Waiting On The Wave”
Sometimes, my surfboard and I, are in Las Vegas looking for the wave….that’s how far I’ve missed the wave. Sometimes, I have been pushed into the water by someone else and forced to take the wave they think I should have taken. Next time, I’m putting sunblock on and wating for MY wave.
wow!! I loved this Sandra!!
LOL, Sandra – I love it – especially being pushed into the water by someone else who thinks they know the wave you should take!
As I’ve started my own business, I’m noticing that I can run way too fast at times. I feel like I always have to be moving and active or else I’ll miss an opportunity. It’s almost like I’m a hamster on a wheel and not thinking whether that activity is really making a difference. I’m starting to see myself slip time-wise as I try to make things happen faster than they really should happen. This post is a good reminder that I need to remember that slowing down is sometimes the best thing for a new EntreLeader.
Absolutely. I struggle with this, too. I tend to drive hard. How’s your business going?
It really is tough when you have a new business. There are many times you have to work like the ox is in the ditch. Eventually, though, you need to wait on the wave. There has to be a balance at some point, or something will become frustrating.
It’s very hard to combat the “I just need to be doing SOMETHING” feeling that wells up inside each of us. I think it comes back to being told once that you can’t steer a ship that isn’t moving. So I try to keep moving.
But sometimes it’s okay to coast for a while, to shut down the engine, and just listen to the stillness and see which way the wind wants to blow. In fact, I think it’s more than okay. It’s probably essential!
Well said Bret. I kind of started typing the same thing when I read yours.
I have fallen victim to a need for busyness so many times. Surely, there is SOMETHING I can be doing? Surely there is a big deal in the works.
I’ve mentioned it before in the “Can You Run a Business Debt Free” post, but that feeling of HAVING to find the next big thing, instead of resting and focusing on doing what we already do better, got us into big trouble. We got our of our comfort zone trying to go move ahead too many spaces in the industry at once.
I’m not suggesting we get complacent…ever, but we were so focused on trying to be #1 that we forgot to run our business our way. We tried to run it the way the #1 company did it. And that was not us.
Like I said before, it left us in shambles, riddled with debt that we never had before, laying people off, and admittedly embarrassed and beaten. It took me personally 6 months to get even close to being back in the “:groove.”
In hindsight, we should have continued to perfect what we were already doing. We would have gone from #10 to #3 in the industry (not that that matters, but still) and probably increased profits 3-4X. I’d still be there, we’d all be multi-millionaires, and well…
But I am glad we learned that lesson…even if it was the hard way.
It’s not about being too content. It’s not about not growing. It’s about staying put, keeping your eyes open, and THEN hitting the right wave, not trying to make a wave yourself.
In other words, slow and steady wins the race? ;0)
Thanks for sharing this. I recall you writing about it before. We live, we learn. When I’m coaching entrepreneurs, I try to get them to focus on serving their customers awesomely. Serve beyond average. Teach them. And be intentional about it and ensure its built into culture.
I think people miss the part of waiting on the wave financially. Debt is taking the rolling wave and trying to MAKE it into something.
Going into debt is like trying to go under the water and trying to create a huge wave yourself. Sometimes it works. Often you drown.
I always hear from some people about the success stories of debt/VC. Yes, it works for a lot of people. Facebook, Google, Under Armour. The proverbial “we financed it on credit cards” or VC funding. Great for them.
But for every one who caught the perfect wave I have to guess there are 10-50 who drowned.
Being entrepreneurial and creative doesn’t mean you have to take unnecessary risks. And it doesn’t mean you have to drown trying to create what will come your way soon enough.
Waves will come. Just try to keep your head above water in the meantime.
Well said, Bret.
My pastor put it this way once:
Some people sit on the raft and wait for God to move the raft.
Some people sit on the raft and paddle their best to make things happen.
The smart people sit on the raft, and save their energy, while focusing on where the wind (God’s Spirit) is blowing, and then raise their sail to catch it.
I’ve done all three of these, and I can say, the best times are those I am getting to know the wind, and then when needed paddle a bit along with it.
Wow Erik… I love this!!!! I like the last option when we don’t let God do everything. Great analogy and something I will try to practice.
It hit me hard when I first heard it. I had been so guilty of either laying back and waiting on God to do everything, or on the flip side, trying to force God’s hand and make God do something.
Now instead, and I’m still learning to do this, I focus less on the water, and more on the wind, and that my ultimate purpose isn’t the career, or my goals, but relationship with God.
Erik – love that – focus less on the water and more on the wind……
Love this – I’m afraid I’m usually the 2nd one – paddling away instead of see where God is blowing me.
This is a really good analogy! Sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s God or my lizard brain though. Thanks for sharing!!
Ok Bob – glad to know someone else has a lizard brain…..!
What a great analogy, Erik! If we could just “wait” on the Holy Spirit and allow that to power our movements.
CLoSurfers International…there’s a new business just waiting to happen! Catching the best waves and teaching others to do the same! This is another great analogy with high adrenaline!
I need to learn to slow down and wait sometimes. “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” is what Moses told the Israelites before the Red Sea was parted. God is waiting to do something great in our lives, but He sometimes needs us to stop and wait for His leading!
I struggle with tapping the brakes big time. I tend to go go go .
Yep – me too!
AMEN, Joshua! My challenge is to “stand still”…..Like, Joel, I’m go, go, go, go…..But it seems as if every time I DO “stand still” God has something powerful to say to me. Seems as if I should learn, huh? hmmmmmmm
I’ve learned over time that I need to just float in the water more. For me, I’ve decided to start meditating a bit to do that. It was amazing how much more focused I was after doing that. Of course, as Chris points out, you need to have the experience to know you indeed need to do that. Getting a grasp of that fact has helped me immensely. It just takes time to gather that experience to know these things. Patience.
You ride the wave, you don’t direct where it will go or when it will end. If you try to paddle your way through, things generally don’t turn out well for you. I think we as leaders try to direct the wave and winds, rather than appreciate the influence they are meant to have… and the opportunity they provide.
Ds try to direct the wave. Is miss the wave due to the party but when they catch one they enjoy every second. Ss ensure is good with catching a particular wave. And Cs scrutinize every wave and when they catch one they hyper analyze their riding performance and track it in a lessons learned program.
Oh dear, guilty as charged! High C here analyzing the wave and tracking. Great analogy!
Don’t just do something, stand there!
Love it! Take the time to get a sense of what is going on, and wait until the time is right to move.
I’m not a water person. At all. I don’t even like showers, but I do take one or two every day. A bad swimming instructor had the bright idea of throwing me in the water because his teaching philosophy told him that a five year old could learn by “sink or swim”. I haven’t been able to overcome that fear since.
Fast forward 30 years, my husband takes me out on a Maui vacation and buys tickets to a snorkeling trip (what part of “I don’t swim” was hard to understand?).
I grabbed every single flotation device on the boat. I think I took one away from a 7 year-old kid. He looked like he could swim. It took me 10 minutes to jump in the water. The wall of the Molokini crater seemed 10 million miles away. Worst part, my husband jumped right in and left me behind.
After I stopped hyperventilating and put my face in the water, I was completely transported to that underwater world. The colors, the movement, the life underneath me was amazing. We got to see a giant sea turtle swimming by. I survived and enjoyed the experience.
How that translates to everyday life? I had a team of experts with me. It would have been stupid to go out on my own. I had someone watching over me, my husband was aware of where I was at all times. I had to let go of control in order to enjoy the experience.
Thanks for a great post to start the day!
Love this, my friend. Your husband definitely took a risk but I bet he knew you could do it.
I know exactly what you are talking about. I was really scared when I went SCUBA diving in Lake Superior, but once you get down and check out a 150 year old shipwreck the reward is right before you. Or when rock climbing, there are many scary moments, but sitting at the top of a spire in Needles South Dakota, the view is better knowing that few have seen this perspective. Few have done the work require to see those views, and I lived to tell the stories!
Pretty cool Chris. One of those guys was probably my brother in law. My sister and her husband live on the Strand right by the pier and he goes surfing all the time. I should have sent you into her place for a free haircut. Oh wait, that wouldn’t have worked so well…. 😉
Fantastic insight Chris – well said.
Fantastic insight Chris – well said.
Think about how hard it was to even get out to the spot where you could just float! You had waves crashing on you trying to push you back to shore. After exuding an enormous amount of energy fighting the waves you finally made it! You are finally at the point where you can catch the wave!
I’ve missed the wave countless times for countless reasons. As I get older, I think I’m catching more and more though! Love the analogy, my friend.
solid observation Chris. Being from Hawaii you couldn’t have said it any better. The waves come and go, just like opportunities. When multiple waves come rolling in at one time it’s also up to you to decide which wave to ride. But no matter what, like what we always say in Hawaii – Enjoy the Ride.
I’ve missed a couple opportunities due to my lack of confidence and fear of failure. Now, I’m constantly sitting in the ocean waiting for every opportunity that comes my way to enjoy the ride.
Mahalo and Aloha.
I think its a great reminder to remember every time you have had your clock cleaned by a wave- the jumbled rolling, not sure which way is up feeling, gasp for breath as you surface to have another hit you flat out again, to wash up on the beach with sand burns and a suit full of sand feeling. To remember to use the lessons you have been given previously, to trust ourselves, in the path God put us, to venture farther when conditions permit and treasure the highs and lows in the experience while enjoying the ride. Learning when to go for it and when not to is as rewarding as when you grab the right one provided you learn as you struggle. We are each our own drop of glistening water, perfect in ourselves but part of a whole, experiencing the ebb and tides of our ocean of life.
I definitely need to learn to float and watch – I’m too busy moving to see the waves much at all. Then fear will set in, and I miss my chance altogether. Great visual and great advice.
I read once that instead of trying to persuade God to get on board with the plan we have created – to instead seek to discover God’s plan and get on board with it.
Chris! That’s a great thought to reflect upon. I feel that most of us lead a busy but undisciplined lives. We are stressed and overwhelmed with work at all times. But, we lose the focus of the base objective. I keep reminding myself the verse from Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”
We can sprint for 1 or 2 minutes; But we can not be sprinting for six months continuously. The same applies to our life. It is similar to marathon. We need to know when to sprint and when to slog.