The beginning surfer asked, “By what direction shall I proceed to become that which I wish to become: a great big-wave surfer?”
“It is not a secret,” replied the master. “The way to becoming anything you desire, including a big-wave surfer, is to practice the four principles of vision quest to reach your goal: Work hard, learn to listen to yourself, remain committed and stay positive.”
Put in the work. No surfer can master big waves until he has first mastered small waves. It would be absurd for a beginning surfer to think he could instantly become a big-wave surfer without working his way up. No matter how badly a surfer desires to be a big-wave surfer he must first put in the time and focus to do so. Big-wave surfers call it paying your dues.
Whatever a person desires in life, he can achieve, but nothing happens overnight. Whether one wishes to become a big-wave surfer, a great musician or an inspiring leader, it will demand time, focus and hard work. If a surfer wants to surf like Kelly Slater, he has to put in as many hours surfing as Slater has. If a guitar player wants to play like Carlos Santana, he better be prepared to put in the same time practicing that Santana has. No one reaches the top without first putting in the work.
Listen to your feelings. Experienced surfers learn quickly to listen to their instincts, that little quiet voice that speaks within, saying, “when in doubt, don’t paddle out.”
If there is any doubt at all, a surfer should hold back. If the waves look too big to ride or the seas too wild, experienced surfers wait for another time when the conditions will be more favorable for surfing.
If an experienced surfer has an uneasy feeling about a particular wave, he passes and waits for another. It’s when a surfer tries to force his will against his inner feelings that trouble is most likely to occur. Foolish surfers rush in, while experienced surfers know better.
Everyone should learn to listen to the voice within.
Remember the true story of the whaling ship Essex. The wise Captain Pollard felt conditions were unfavorable to go forward. However, instead of trusting his instincts and listening to his all-knowing inner voice, Captain Pollard bowed to peer pressure from the less-experienced, more gung-ho first mate.
Against Captain Pollard’s better judgment, which told him to delay the voyage, the Essex went forward. Everything that could go wrong went wrong, and the voyage ended in disaster.
Commit. If you are going to go for it, really go for it. Surfing challenging waves requires full commitment and 100 percent focus. In surfing, and life, he who hesitates is headed for a wipeout. Many a surfer has paddled himself into a steep wave only to attempt to pull back at the last second, with the last-second change of heart almost always causing a spectacular wipeout.
It is far better for a surfer to follow through with his commitment to catch a wave than to hesitate or pull back at the top of a wave. At a crucial moment in time, such as paddling into a steep wave, there is no time for second-guessing. Experienced surfers make up their mind to go and then never look back.
Sooner or later, everyone has to decide to go or hold back about something. Be it catching a wave or climbing a mountain, the time to decide to go for it is before taking on a challenge, not during a challenge. Many surfers make “impossible” tube rides or steep drops they thought they would never make just by remaining committed and following through.
Focus on a positive outcome. Above all, experienced surfers maintain a positive attitude. Once a surfer has committed to a wave, he must believe with every fiber of his being he is going to make that wave, even if it looks doubtful.
Experienced surfers do not take off on a wave thinking they may wipeout; they take off on a wave knowing deep within they can and will make it.
Once a person commits to a wave, project, relationship or other endeavor, it is important to remain positive. Negative surfers have doubts that can cause them to create their own spectacular wipeouts. Positive surfers remain hopeful, always looking for the best in every situation even when the situation looks hopeless.