Surfing isn’t for everyone. I often wake up early, brave the cold while putting on my wetsuit, jump into the cold water, swim with sharks (dramatic effect), and paddle myself through big walls of water in order to even have the opportunity of catching a wave. Why would I put myself through all of this? Because when I’ve put myself in the right conditions and find myself riding down the side of a perfect wave, all of life’s stresses disappear and my mind is refreshed. So, how has surfing helped me in business? Remarkably, surfing has shaped my thoughts on quite a few things. For me, surfing has had impacts on how I go about sales, how I go about getting projects completed, how I solve problems, and on my outlook.
With surfing, the best way to have the high of a good day is to stay in shape and get out there to see what happens. Some of my favorite days surfing came at unexpected times. Maybe I paddled out on a day where the forecast was for small waves and I got some bigger ones than expected. Maybe I was out on a big day and all the waves came my way and I rode them perfectly. The lesson that I’ve learned from this is that you have to keep your body in working order get out there for opportunities to happen. With business, I’ve always believed that it’s very important to keep everything working well just as it’s important to stay in shape for surfing. If the company is running well, we will be able to put ourselves out there and perform well on opportunities as they arise.
Outlook on Work
Surfing is fun. It gives me something to look forward to. It gives me something to work for. On a hard day at work, I think about my next surf trip or when is that next swell going to arrive. We work to live, not live to work. My goal is to give the team members at ABBOTT Engineering opportunities to find their own types of surfing, whether it’s hiking, running, fishing, camping, biking, etc. Having passion for something and something to work for gives people solace. Most people want to work hard, have a positive impact on society, and bring up the people around us. If I give the ABBOTT team room for their personal types of surfing, they will bring that passion and solace into the workplace, making it a better place for all of us to be here.
Being grounded (or humble) is one of the pillars I live and work by. Surfing is what keeps me grounded. When I’m out of shape, the ocean will let me know. When I get overconfident the ocean humbles me. When I forget who’s in charge out there, the ocean reminds me that I’m not the boss. The ocean doesn’t allow me to be prideful. So, with work, it’s the same outlook. If something goes wrong, there’s a good chance that the ocean of work is humbling me. As issues come up I think it’s human nature to try and take the blame off of ourselves. It’s easy to jump to conclusions and say that “the contractor asking for a change order is trying to take advantage of the owner” or that “the other engineer made a mistake” but there are always two sides to every story. If an issue comes up, I make an effort to fully understand the problem. By doing this and by looking at every side of the issue, it helps to come up with solutions that are best for all parties involved. Being grounded allows me to help people instead of putting my interests first. Ultimately, if we help people, it ends up being better for us anyway. So, everybody wins!
Life Can Be Good
Again, surfing is fun. Believe it or not, work can be too. We spend a lot of time at work and I want to be happy while I’m there. I want everybody else to be happy too. Life isn’t always easy. We all have hurdles thrown at us. Work doesn’t need to be a hurdle. Work can be a wave that we ride if we look at it the right way and with the right outlook. While nurturing our types of surfing, we are nurturing how we go about life and work. If I want to ride a bigger wave, I have to prepare for it with conditioning and experience. If I want to win a bigger job, I have to prepare for it with conditioning and experience. I look at my projects with a passion like I do surfing. I hope that the other people in my office can too.