Surf's Up

Leadership lessons are everywhere.  Recently, I was fortunate to spend time in Nicaragua.  I highly recommend this country.  Everything about Nicaragua warms the heart:  the weather, the people, the rum.  We visited an up-and-coming beach town called San Juan del Sur.  It is about a two hour drive from the capital’s airport in Managua.  San Juan del Sur is surrounded by muchas playas, or many beaches: each unique, each beautiful, and most importantly, each with their own fish taco stand!  

One day, our group decided to take a surf lesson.  The energetic and supportive instructors gave us three recommendations to consider throughout the day while we were in the water.  At the time, these tidbits were simply safety measures. After the adventure was over, our group chatted about these three guidelines and decided they were some serious words to live by…especially when it came to leading a team or organization. Here they are, along with a few of my personal thoughts.  

1. When entering the water, shuffle your feet instead of stepping through the water to avoid stingrays.

  • Jumping in headfirst might not always be the best strategy. It is best to evaluate the landscape then proceed with the best course of action for that environment.  
  • There is nothing wrong with planning and taking your time.  
  • Your way might not always be the best way.  It is important to take the opinions and strategies of others into consideration.

2. If you fall off your board, then immediately cover your head to protect it from the board.

  • When we are in moments of peril or crisis, we must prioritize what needs protection and attention.  This means you must know your priorities so you can guard what you value most.

3. Always keep a point of reference of where you entered the water so that you can always see it from shore.

  • We must always know where we came from in order to know where we are going.  Our reference point is our foundation.  
  • Reference points serve as a reminder of who we are and provide the opportunity to realign with when necessary.  As leaders, it is important to stay centered with what matters most to us.  Our reference points helps bring us back to our core when we have strayed.
  • A reference point keeps you focused and safe.  While surfing, there were underwater rocks to the left of us and if we drifted too far there was potential for harm.  By staying in line with our reference point, we knew we were in a safe area.