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6 Lessons From Failing to Meet Performance Standards

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The last few days have been some of the most frustrating I’ve had in all the time that I’ve been surfing. My frustration has stemmed from the fact that I’ve found myself unable to surf at the level that I usually can. There’s nothing quite so frustrating as failure to meet your own standards, especially when you’ve fallen below the performance level you are used to. I found myself in 3 hour sessions only to be left with one wave. After nearly 4 straight days of these uninspired sessions, I was ironically inspired with some valuable lessons applicable to surfing and life.

1. Don’t Judge Yourself By your Worst Days

Even the best in their field have less than stellar days. When we judge ourselves by our worst days we tend to fill our minds with doubt and limitation. As a result, our subpbar performance starts to become a self fulfilling prophecy. These were only 4 days of surfing out of nearly  3 years in a pursuit of waves.  Given that they are a tiny fraction of the time I’ve spent in the water, it’s likely they’re not as significant as I’ve made them out to be. The evolution of skill is an ongoing process.

2. Beware the Comparison Trap

As I sat in the water over the last few days, I watched one surfer after another fly by on wave after wave, while I only managed a handful. Even though I know that all it takes is one good wave, once you’ve had a taste you’ll find yourself salivating for more.  Between over two years of surfing in Southern California and 6 months in Costa Rica I’ve been in the water with some serious talent. I met a guy who surfed on the San Clemente High School Surf Team (a breeding ground for pro-surfers). I’ve met  people who have been surfing for over 17 years. I’ve been in the water with people better than me and worse than me. It’s fair to say the last few days I’ve been surrounded by many who are better than I am.  When you put my 3 years against the 17 of the guy I was talking to in the parking lot, it’s a pretty unfair comparison. Falling victim to the comparative and competitive disadvantage can be demoralizing and detrimental to your success.

3. Sometimes the Conditions Suck

If there’s one thing that surfing teaches you it’s that the conditions are always changing. Some days are epic and some days are complete shit. The latest swell we had was a bit of a mess. Waves that are normally forgiving and damn near perfect came in like walls of water crushing anybody in sight. There were of course, the few, the brave, and the talented who occasionally scored. While the the entire time I thought it had been just me, I learned that there were others who failed to meet their own performance standards and came to terms with the fact that sometimes the conditions just suck.

4. Consider the Possibility of Invisible Progress

When I got to Costa Rica, I had found myself in an adjustment period, where it seemed that I had taken a step backwards in my skill. It was only after close to 2 months and letting go of the need for visible progress I found myself surfing at a level far beyond what I had before. In developing any skill, you’ll find that peaks, plateaus and even valleys are par for the course. But during this time you’re always refining the fundamentals and one small adjustment can sometimes make a big difference.

5. Don’t be Afraid to Call it a Day

On Monday morning after near 4 hours in the water, the loss of feeling in my hands from the ice cold water, and only one wave, I realized that it was time to call it a day.  Catching another wave simply was not going to happen.  Staying any longer would extend passion beyond obsession to stupidity and hypothermia. I was time to get out. I didn’t want to quit and believe me I was frustrated. However I had reached a point of diminishing returns.  Sometimes we have to be willing to call it a day and start again tomorrow.  While we might solve a problem through brute force, it’s likely we’ll get a much better result by sleeping on it for a night.

6. Everything is Temporary

The nature of the ocean is that everything is temporary. As I said above, sometimes the conditions suck, sometimes they’re epic. It’s a medium that is in a constant state of change, the same way life is.  We’ll have your setbacks, our safety blankets pulled and days that test our patience. But the good thing about them all is they eventually come to and end. In the span of a life time none of them will remain constant.

It’s rare that I’m inspired by a series of uninspiring surf sessions, but these last few have definitely with some insights that I didn’t quite expect. What about you? Have you fallen below your own performance standards at any point?

 

[Quelle/Source (Link): 6 Lessons From Failing to Meet Performance Standards]

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