Lessons from the Surf

Dan Bolton


Fall is here. This is exciting because this is typically the best time of year to surf in New England with the hurricanes from the South in the Atlantic pushing storm swells up North for surfers to enjoy. 

This past Tuesday the swell hit Hampton Beach in New Hampshire. All of my excitement came to a head and ended in disappointment. As I preach to all of you I decided to make the best of my disappointment. Surfing taught me another important life lesson.  

The problem began with this summer being pretty barren when it came to waves. There were only a couple of good surf days, and the rest was flat to very small at best (not good enough to bag a day of work to get in the water). This tested my patience as last year the summer uncharacteristically had a lot of great surf days in New England. I spent most of the summer on the sidelines working on other projects and keeping in shape other ways. The problem with this is that the hurricane swells are very strong and you have to be in prime swimming shape to power through the currents. 

Given my lack of time in the water, I was not in good surf shape for Tuesday and I was not prepared enough to handle the head high waves that nature brought us. I struggled out there. After paddling out then getting caught in front of a break that was further out than the break before, I was winded, and duck diving made me lose my breath even more. I went into a very negative frame of mind out there, angry at myself for not being prepared, angry at nature for not providing enough good waves this summer, angry that I wasn’t living in California or Hawaii where the waves are more consistent. This negative mental frame bled over into my surfing and I did not have a good day. 

Upon reflection I reworked my state of mind. The responsibility for my experience was on my shoulders. Even when the opportunity for what I want is not immediately available, if I really want something I must be prepared and keep myself prepared. I lost track of this in my disappointment over the summer and did not train for this day that was most important for me. When it finally arrived I was not prepared. When all was said and done only I was responsible for my disappointment Tuesday. Only I was responsible for my negative frame of mind. On top of it, this wayward anger did me no good. By letting my negative frame of mind get the best of me I tainted what could have been a beautiful moment for me in which I was doing something I love. 

Sometimes we need to learn lessons we have learned more than once to make them stick. This is an important perspective for everybody. Just because you did the work before does not mean that it is over forever. The concept of doing work then going on autopilot is a fantasy. Progress requires upkeep. Without upkeep we ALL will fall back into old patterns. 

So, I’ve committed to training the rest of the Fall specifically for surfing. This wake up call came for me as I passed an ad for an exercise app specifically for training to surf. What a gift. I’m on it and whether any more waves come or not I will be prepared regardless. What patterns are you going to commit to change and keep on top of?

Next week I will resume with this months theme for the next Tele-Seminar on relationship issues for men: Rejection. I will be covering the role rejection plays in anxiety commonly experienced by men, and how important it is for men to overcome this fear, since rejection is ultimately something we never stop experiencing. If this sounds interesting to you sign up below to receive my blog via email and secure your spot in this discussion on my free Tele-Seminar: 

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