Part of the beauty of working remotely is being able to travel and schedule work on your terms — whether that means working four days for eighteen hours a day (not a good idea) or working a week straight and taking four days off. That’s where I am as I write this.

The town where I’m working in is one of the well-known surfing capitals of the world.  When waves are big at Tres Palmas, they’re five to six feet overhead, about 30-feet plus. It’s a blessing that it’s just a 10-minute walk to this special space, here on Puerto Rico’s Road to Happiness, otherwise known as Route 413.  

5 Lessons Marketers Could Learn from Surfers

Whether you’re learning to surf or just experimenting with new business strategies, it’s important to get through the impact zone, a series of crashing waves or obstacles that meet you along the way. Challenge by challenge, your job is to get through to the other side.

  1. Unless you try it, you’ll never know. You can read 100 books, take a class or brave it solo, but there’s no one way to surf the waves, just different techniques. The same for marketing – tweaking the principles that have worked before or trying something totally new. Business and surfing can be scary, exciting and exhausting – all at the same time – but attitude and perseverance will save you from drowning.
  2. It takes time to be successful. Be prepared to paddle, even if you’re exhausted. Head-high waves, like the competition, are all around you, but the sooner you’re able to break through, the faster you’ll get to a resting spot. In business, you’ll paddle through and pick up speed depending on the urgency at hand. Since the ocean and business often show no mercy, learn to push when you need to and guard your valuable energy. It becomes easier as you recognize the cycles and tides. 
  3. Be ready to catch an opportunity. When you see a perfect wave, you have to be ready: in position, in the right direction, watching other surfers and yielding to those in the line up. When it’s your turn, paddle like there’s no tomorrow, and hopefully, lift off. It can be a thrilling ride, even though it may be a short one. In business and marketing, being prepared for action is critical for success. Confidence comes from preparation and knowing what to do — even if you hit a wave.
  4. Learn to tread water. It can be frustrating to learn how to surf, let alone face multiple challenges in the water. Waves are relentless. You’re never learning fast enough and just when you think you ‘get it’, you fail. Although surfing and business can be tense, you have to learn to breathe through the tough times, then rest. An uptight body in the water sinks faster. An uptight body in life gets stressed out and gets sick. Keeping cool under pressure is a learned art, and can save your life (and business). 
  5. Respect the powers that be. My surf instructor told me the ocean is a mighty force and my surfboard is not my friend, so I had to learn to deal with both. Being swept to shore with a board and leash tied to your ankle can be humbling. In business, it’s humbling to make mistakes and take a hit, but the secret is getting up again and hopefully, not making the same mistake twice. 

In surfing and in business, mistakes become learning opportunities to move you to the next level. Respect knowledge, ability and experience, but don’t forget to respect your own power and initiative. You hold the key.

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