In a world of choppy waters, facing the unknown requires innate flexibility and stability
Yes, we all went digital! And as a CEO of an online, data-based company, I see the results from up close. But like in any crisis, the digital world, as great as it is, has its limits. However, even – or especially – when facing challenges, I try to apply valuable and relevant lessons I’ve learned from surfing, which I’ll share with you below.
From day one of the pandemic, I was craving the ocean. Like many surfers globally, we rely on this form of sport for much more than sport. It is a working methodology. Today, as the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions are gradually being lifted – surfing is back to serve me with much more than just a surfboard. It is my sounding board for managing this large-scale crisis with flexibility, alert, and fast decision-making – that, and data, of course.
Here are 6 ways that surfing can help you in business, especially during a crisis.
1. Unpredictable playground: Unlike most sports, with surfing, the playground is unpredictable and cannot be controlled or anticipated. You need to always be aware of immediate changes – just like in our current market. You can plan ahead, have a fully fleshed-out plan, and then something will shift your direction, thus changing your reality. In surfing, we basically exercise those muscles that allow us to remain completely alert and to gather the info provided by the ocean by the second.
2. Always forecasting: Every surfer, no matter if he or she is a 15-year-old beach bum or a 40-year-old CEO, relies on a continuous forecast. How?
· Macro thinking: By checking synoptic maps, wind direction and power, swell direction, and more elements that can increase the chances of winning and finding that great swell.
I find that this way of macro thinking also applies to the business world. After all, any executive must check on relevant elements affecting their ecosystems and find new ways to win – and sometimes even win big!
· Micro thinking: By checking your minute-to-minute movement in the water. Making the wrong decision or choosing the wrong spot will force you to paddle against nature, against the stream, which none of us want to do. Fixing a mistake in the choppy waters of our current market may take
you longer than you think – so you must evaluate your position and reevaluate it frequently based on always being on the lookout.
3. Waiting for that perfect moment: Ninety percent of surfing is based on waiting, especially waiting for a better opportunity to arise so you can hit it with all you’ve got. A good executive knows when to wait for a better opportunity and does not rush to capture one that may not be worth the effort. Surfing teaches you to not fear the wait.
4. Decision-maker loneliness: Surfing is a one woman/man show. It’s just you, your surfboard, and the ocean. The same goes for the business world, with you as the main decision-maker. Yes, eventually you are on your own. And when it comes to the crunch-time decision-making moment, your colleagues, teams, management, etc. rely on you to make the decision on your own.
5. Keeping calm: In the surfing world, this factor can be critical to keeping you alive! No, I am not exaggerating. Every seasoned surfer has experienced (at least) one near-death incident and has learned plenty of lessons from it. If you are pushed underwater and your surfboard has been taken away – the only way you can stay alive is by keeping calm! This situation is very similar to a business overturn or an erratic market – we’ve all been there. The only way you can ensure that you stay on top of such a situation and make the right decisions is by remaining calm, sharp and collected.
6. And, finally, it requires commitment: To reach that perfect surf, a surfer needs to go to great lengths. Waking up at dawn, entering the freezing cold water, jumping from a jetty into the waves, encountering sharks, even breaking bones. I’m pretty sure this illustrates full-on commitment! In our market, you may encounter plenty of “sharks” or heavy waves, but when you do, staying on course, and remaining committed to your mission while adjusting it to your reality will bring you one step forward to that great memorable surf!