Position Yourself: Think Like A Surfer

Have you ever watched as an opportunity passed right by? This is typically because you weren’t in the right place at the right time. Or maybe you didn’t have the tools you needed.

Not knowing how to position yourself is something that can be fixed though education. Educating yourself will also improve your ability to know what tools are best for a given task. You will likely find that any fears you have are greatly diminished once you educate yourself as well.

Knowledge is power

Today I’ll be discussing positioning and how to be ready when opportunity presents itself. This concept came to me after a recent discussion with my good friend Steve from Xamurai Mobile. He’s a successful entrepreneur and I’d wager some of that has to come from what he shared with me.

Positioning starts with knowing which path will take you to where you need to be.

He suggested looking at business, and life in general, as being a surfer looking for a wave to ride. Business opportunities are like waves in the ocean. Some are better than others, and they’re always coming and going. You just need to know where to look.

“A genius in the wrong position could look like a fool.” 

― Idowu Koyenikan

Once you know where to look and what to look for you’ll set yourself up to make better predictions. Having the ability to make better predictions increases your likelihood of capitalizing when opportunities present themself. This is just as true with surfing as it is in business.

The better your understanding of the environment the better your ability to make sense of the landscape and execute when the time is right. For those of you familiar with the stock market I’m sure this is something you can relate with on a regular basis.

However, not only do you need to know where to look, but you need to have the proper equipment. This equipment can be thought of in terms of education or knowledge as well as technology. If you have the knowledge and equipment, when the wave comes, you can execute much more precisely.

Execute at the right time and in position with the appropriate gear and you can ride it out while everyone else watches. This conversation I had with Steve is one I wont soon forget and hope it resonates with you the same.

Have fun with it

I was fortunate enough to have been introduced to surfing a while back. While living in Thailand I met a few friends that were adamant about the sport and invited me out. Shout out to Surf Thailand and crew!

“The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.”

– Phil Edwards

I learned a lot about positioning to catch a wave. Yet, I didn’t connect the dots with how it could be applied to business at the time. However, when my friend made the comment, connecting business and surfing, it just clicked and made perfect sense.

Just swimming out to where you need to be prevents many from even trying.

If you’ve been around long enough I’m sure you’ve heard critics talking about someone, maybe yourself, being lucky. Sure, luck is an aspect as with many things in life.

However, it’s not something wise entrepreneurs build a foundation on. Even professional gamblers use extensive knowledge to hedge their bets.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

― Seneca

Instead, a solid foundation is built on knowledge and hard work. Education, in whatever industry you’re in, will open many doors and present more opportunities to become lucky.

Tools of the trade

The amount of resources available to everyone these days can be overwhelming, but it’s available none the less. Identify an area you want to grow in and put in the effort to get something out of it. Read, listen… do.

“The amount of good luck coming your way depends on your willingness to act.”

– Barbara Sher

The knowledge you gain is like having the proper equipment or tools for a given task. The first time I was introduced to surfing I was fortunate to have someone knowledgeable enough to set me up with the appropriate gear.

Moments of clarity often come when your mind is the most quiet.

In this case, that was the proper surfboard for my weight and skill level. By skill level I mean super noobie with zero experience on a surf board. I was set up with what I thought was a ridiculously large board, but as time would tell, that was what I needed in that moment.

Education breeds confidence

The first day I was out trying to catch a wave it was really frustrating and exhausting. I’ve spent a large portion of my life snowboarding and when I was younger skateboarding and a bit of wake-boarding.

I thought it should be easier since I’d previously ridden boards in other sports. Eventually, I started to lose my peace of mind after failing repeatedly to stand up on a wave. I became my biggest critic and it only made things worse.

Thankfully, my friends were super chill and I was able to feed off their vibes. Also, I was really trying to live by the Thai saying, “Sabai Sabai”.

Basically just be more relaxed about all the things. Easier said than done for me, but something I’ve been aspiring to integrate in my daily routine.

It’s tough to be riding any wave and not be smiling. When you’re up, you’re up!

I spent my time watching the others and listening to what they would share between missed waves, falls and choking on salt water. I made more attempts to ride waves as they presented themselves and kept patient. The more I learned, the better I got and soon enough I found my peace of mind and center of balance.

“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”

― Confucius

I was learning about tides, time of day, waves in a set, the line up and basic surf etiquette. All these insights were building my toolset of knowledge to enable me to know more about positioning and how and when to do it.

It was a bit of a hit to my ego to barely be able to jump up on a board at the right time and ride it out. However, I was eventually able to ride a wave that day and it was a little victory that was pretty tasty… Tasty Dangerous!

Vision to execute and knowing when to move

Take opportunities as they present themself. Eventually you’ll start to see when it’s better to wait for the next one, like waves in a set. It took a little while for me, but eventually I started to notice a trend in the waves.

For those unfamiliar with surfing, waves come into the shore in sets. These sets can range in volume from a few waves to what I’ve heard up to 20, depending on the swell.

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action with without vision is a nightmare.

—Japanese proverb

As with business, the waves or opportunities in each set vary on how nice they are. From my understanding, the first wave in a set is never the most tasty wave to ride.

Riding a small wave is better than not riding a wave at all.

You tend to find the best wave with a little patience and this is how I suggest you approach business as well. Positioning has its place and timing is as much of it as anything else.

Balance is an art

So we’ve talked about positioning, timing, prediction and having the appropriate tools for the trade. However, we can’t forget about balance. Remember, finding the wave and riding it are two different aspects of the sport.

This is the same as business. Just knowing when and where to be there doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to stay standing when you execute your plan. Surfing, as with business, is all about trial and error. Learn on the fly and adjust as you go.

Sometimes something is better than nothing. Enjoy the little victories.

There were many times when I was attempting to ride a wave that I’d make little mistakes and they would cost me my balance. Once that was gone the ride was over and it was back to paddling out through the break. This included face fulls of water and waves doing their best to push you back into shore.

This is a great simile for how business, and life in general, can seem to feel at times. You do everything you can to learn, position and predict. Yet at the moment of execution you fall and get pushed into shore. Learn to love the process, it makes you stronger.

Live and learn

After enough attempts, falls and repositioning I was able to have what I considered a reasonable success rate. I also got better at duck diving to get through the waves and reposition. I didn’t get tired as fast paddling back out and overall started to feel much more comfortable being out there.

This will be the same with business. Not every wave will be the best wave. Even if you get to attempt riding one of the best waves theres always a chance you’ll lose your balance.

“It’s all about where your mind’s at”

– Kelly Slater

If this happens be prepared to fight your way back trough the waves to reposition. The waves, as with business, don’t care if you’re tired or frustrated. They’ll still be there long after you’re gone giving others the opportunity to ride and presenting them with their own share of difficulties.

Use these opportunities to learn from. Take that knowledge and apply it to the next opportunity. Enjoy the process and allow yourself to see your development and strengths improving. Eventually you’ll be stronger, smarter, faster and your success rate will be something to be proud of.

Cheers to the process, hope to see you out in the line up. If you haven’t done so already be sure to check out my podcast. Here I discuss a variety of aspects as they pertain to lifestyle development. Including, but not entirely limited to mindset, creativity, adventure and business.

If you have questions or ideas you’d like to have me dig into, please feel free to connect and I’ll see how I can help! Until next time, keep living that Tasty Dangerous lifestyle!