Surfability: leading in any ocean
Honestly, I don't think I can remember the first time I had contact with the sea. I was a little child when I began to receive his first lessons, but only as an adult being I did realize the impact that these learnings would have on my professional future.
When I think about professional experience, automatically what comes into my mind is: the places I worked, the goals I met, and the people I had chance to work and, with no doubt, those people are the key to understand my career. They were always present in the form of bosses, teammates, office mates, staff people, there was always someone impacting my career in some way, there was always someone exercising their leadership.
To exercise the leadership you don't need only to take control of a team, but understand the ability to take concrete decisions, make people follow you, dream the same dreams and work so that this dream becomes a goal and, consequently, a goal fulfilled. And to make it happen, you don't need, necessarily, a team but just understand your power of influence over others.
“Okay, amazing. But I still don't understand what is the connection with surfing!"
Calm down, I’m coming…
Surfing is a sport that needs a lot of people in order to make it happen: a shaper that makes the perfect board for your goal, a coach who creates a strategy and who is able to analyze the mistakes, the competitors who challenge you to improve continuously and so many others, however, at the moment the surfer enters the sea, he is the last responsible for the decision. He is the one who defines what should be done or not and this is what leadership is about.
Decisions taken on board should be very quick. Although the surfer has studied the whole context on that day, nature can offer unexpected possibilities and the ability to take decisions is what will define whether the day will be good or not. And I don't even need to say how it looks like our day to day, right? How many times have we created the perfect planning and had to change at the last minute?
And that leads to my next point, about the ability to adapt to different situations. Conditions will not always be the best and it is at this point that resilience must be present in our career. Before each day of the official surfing championships, the evaluators study whether the day will have swell¹ or not and determine if the championship should be held that day. Often, even with the prognoses of good waves, it is very common for some batteries to have incredible waves and others not so much and even though you are one of the best on the championship, the wave simply does not come.
Another thing is knowing how to exploit your own talent. I remember ever reading something attributed to Albert Einstein who said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”. When you are a surfer, you do surf, but not necessarally all types of waves. There are the big riders, the free surfers, the pro surfers, they use their talent for what they do best and in a company should not be different, treat different people differently, valuing their capabilities helps to empower not only the individual talent but the diversity in the team.
And last but not least, it is your ability to celebrate. Even that professional surfers, who has won several titles take their time to celebrate. It is important to recognize the effort, the work behind that victory and to be able to share it all with the people who were part of that goal. Kelly Slater himself said: “The joy of surfing is so many things combined, from the physical exertion of it, to the challenge of it, to the mental side of the sport.”
And if Kelly Slater, after 8 world titles still celebrates, why we can't enjoy our “titles” every day?
¹ Swell: is the collection of waves moving away from a storm in the ocean.
I would love to hear your opinion on all this! And if you think I forgot something, please tell me and maybe I can write a 2nd part! :)