Surfing secrets: How Surfing Supercharges Your Professional Journey

Charlotte Crivelli
3 min readMay 26, 2023
Surfing in Byron Bay

The ocean has always served as a remarkable medium for imparting invaluable skills that can be applied to both personal and professional spheres.

However, since relocating to Byron Bay, I’ve discovered that these lessons have expanded exponentially, especially in terms of their relevance to my work life.

As part of our routine, my 9-year-old daughter and I embark on a morning surf several times a week. There’s a continuous learning curve, fear, challenges and collaboration.

After our surf I try and note down any lessons that would help me personally or professionally.

Here’s 6 insights that I’d like to share as they might help you, too.

1 & 2: Reflection and resilience are key takeaways from our surf experiences, including one particularly harrowing incident that shook both my daughter and me to the core. We had a bad accident that was nearly life threatening. We were both in tears. We were both left shaken.

Reflection: This event instilled in me the importance of reflection, as we dedicated time to analyzing what went wrong, how it happened, the lessons learned, and strategies to prevent its recurrence.

To make sure it never happens again we documented our findings and discuss them before venturing into the surf, ensuring we avoid repeating past mistakes.

Applying this framework of documenting, re-visiting and reflecting my mistakes has become a staple in my professional encounters ensuring I don’t repeat mistakes of the past.

3. Resilience: The ocean teaches you resilience. While workplace challenges may arise, I remind myself that I’m not in a life-saving profession like doctors or nurses. Tough days at work don’t compare to a tough day in the ocean. My experiences in the ocean have infused me with the courage and composure needed to handle professional adversities and difficult conversations with a little more levity!

4. Perspective; Real fear and imagined fear: That moment when you see a fin pop up 20 meters from you (which you really, really hope is a dolphin), the moment when you see a large black mass moving underneath you (and you really hope it’s a moving rock) or the moment you are held under longer than you are comfortable with. These are the moments that teach you how to cope with fear and what to do about it. It’s helped me understand that the fears I have at work or in my career are easily dealt with — they aren’t life altering and my life isn’t in danger. You just need perspective and a plan to work through your work fears.

5. Humility and continuous learning: In most sports we accept that it’s a continuous learning curve. Like yoga or surfing there is no end point to your journey.

Eight time world surfing champ Steph Gilmore once said that she learns something every single time she goes for a surf. Why do we ever think it’s OK to stop learning at work?! We are never too senior to upskill, take another course or get a new accreditation.

6. There are no free rides; the only cheap thrills you can get are at a theme park. Catching a wave is super fun but it usually means you’ve had a hell of a long paddle to get out the back before the wave and a hell of a long paddle to get back to the launch point after your ride. It’s always hard work before and after the fun ride!

Long story short, I feel challenged and a little scared every time I go out in the surf. I never know what’s going to happen as no two waves or days are alike.

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