Last month, I played hooky from work to surf in Costa Rica.
Well, actually I attended a leadership development program where I learned to surf, sort of. I also learned a lot about myself as a leader and an entrepreneur in the process.
On Day 1, the group had to answer the question: “What was the last physical skill you learned?” Do spinning or core classes count, I wondered? Being 100% immersed in the survival of daily life, it was a hard question to answer. I learned to snow ski and water ski as an adult, but that was 20-plus years ago! Was that really the last physical skill l learned? And did that matter?
To learn any new physical skill you have to be willing to be vulnerable and admit weakness, which of course seems counterintuitive in the working world. Remember that advertising tagline from the 80s, “never let them see you sweat?” Turns out it’s really the opposite. Being new at something can make you stronger, because you’re willing to try (and fail…and try again). It takes a certain level of self-awareness and confidence to admit that you’re not going to be great at it right away, or maybe ever. Success takes practice, and you have to be okay with the process, which often includes some embarrassment and discomfort; in this case, lots of falls, board rash and sore legs from fighting waves and avoiding sting rays.
Some other takeaways from my week away:
Be authentic. I was surprised how the five other strangers in the class honed in on my personality in just a couple days. Clearly “I am who I am” to folks from all walks of life, experience and professional backgrounds. So why not embrace it and be proud of it?
Leaders don’t have to be charismatic. They don’t have to be well-spoken. They can come in many forms…so long as they are real and genuine.
Be thankful. Appreciate what you have done in your life (all aspects).
Learn to surf…or some other crazy thing that frustrates, intimidates, scares or challenges you. It can be incredibly rewarding!