Aloha from the 50th state! The ADA Annual Session has just ended and many friends and colleagues are on their way back to the mainland. Overall, I think it was a successful meeting. You can see more of my thoughts on the meeting by watching one of my three daily recaps in our videos section.
While in Hawaii, one of the things I was fortunate enough to do was take surfboarding lessons and try out my new skills in the waters just outside Waikiki Beach. Believe me when I say that I never realized the work it takes to actually surf. I always thought of surfing as just gracefull riding a wave, but there is so much more to it than that. Just paddling on my surfboard out to where the waves were was enough to almost exhaust me.
Thankfully, our group had two great instructors -- Tony and Dan-O (can you think of a better name in Hawaii than Dan-O?) who were very patient with surf rookies like me. After missing three waves, I finally got up on the fourth attempt. I am guessing I rode the wave for about 10 seconds, but it was a grand and glorious 10 seconds. It would be the only time in eight tries I would stay upright long enough to consider it a successful run.
After our two-hour excursion, I paddled back to shore exhausted but very happy I had had the experience of surfing. Later in the day, I thought of four lessons I learned and how they could apply to life in general.
1. Sometimes you're going to miss the wave -- You think you have everything prepared. You're in the right position. You're ready to ride ... and then something happens. Maybe you're off-balance. Maybe your timing was a little off. Whatever the case, you don't catch the wave and you have to watch others surfing while you just tread water. Early in the surf time, I mistimed a wave and it passed me by. I shared my frustration with Tony. He smiled and said, "Dude, another's one coming. Don't worry about it." He's right. There's always another wave coming, and we'll miss it too if we don't dust ourselves off and get ready.
2. Sometimes you're going to fall -- Believe me, I crashed hard a few times ... and I got a little frustrated by it. There was once when I was so tired I just wanted to lay on the surfboard and look at Diamondhead off in the distance. However, Dan-O wouldn't let that happen. "Come on, let's get a wave," he said. Sure enough, I fell the very next time. "Come on, you got this," Dan-O said. Honestly, I never "got" another one after that as I tumbled two more times into the ocean before heading to shore. But I'm glad I tried. I'm not a person who gives up on something easily ... including surfing. The easy thing is to walk away from what frustrates us, but the easy thing isn't always the right thing.
3. Encouragement is key -- Without Dan-O and Tony, I can tell you I never would've ridden a wave. I'm thankful they were to be my teachers and cheerleaders. We all need people like them in our lives (personally and professionally) to keep us going when we're discouraged and help us learn and try new things. Do you have a cheerleader? Are you a cheerleader for someone else?
4. Enjoy the ride ... no matter what -- No, I didn't enjoy the mouthful of saltwater I swallowed when I crashed the first time. As I write this, I can look down at my knees and they're pretty scraped up. I hit the water hard and was exhausted the rest of the night after I surfed, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Sometimes getting through something not-so-fun at the time pays dividends when everything is said and done. Personally, I know I can look back at times that were difficult and see how I became a stronger person by enduring them.
Surf's up. Are you coming in?