Helping senior managers and executives who surf, to
Work Less and Surf More
Due to my own life experience and journey, I focus specifically upon senior managers and executives who surf, and want to work less and surf more. Through hundreds of conversations I have identified the key challenges that stop us surfing and how to overcome them. I have been there and done it myself and can help you achieve the dream too.
I have over 20 years in senior management and am qualified and experienced Coaching Master, Mentor, Instructor and Train the Trainer. I have directly overseen the development of over 30,000 individuals whilst establishing a world leading personal and professional development brand. As my success grew I found my surf time compromised and after more than a year or so of procrastination, I finally re-shaped my life to have more time for surf and my family. Questions from other surfers led me to share my experience and develop the Work Less Surf More Program, and Surfers Life Club, to help others find their own way to follow their dreams.
I am from the UK and presently live in Cape Town, after 7 years in Costa Rica. Locally in South Africa I am on the committee of the local state surfing association, have founded a surf club for the local kids and Africa’s most southerly, and possibly only, sea shanty band.
"Only a surfer knows the feeling."
As surfers, we say it and believe it. Rip Curl, way back in the day, used it to describe glorious feeling of surfing waves. It also describes the pain I felt as a surfer who can not get to the surf, the frustration I felt as a surfer who needs to live his life around swell, tides and wind but lives in today’s society.
Stress and anger
Only a surfer knows the frustration I felt, and yes, the anger, as I knowingly agreed to meetings and tasks that I know would mean I miss yet another surf session, when as we discussed tomorrow’s plans whilst going to bed I discover I need to cancel my planned dawnie before work because someone has had some plan to do something else. Only a surfer knows the guilt I feel at directing that anger towards to my wife, kids, or colleagues, when I knew, I could choose differently, but I just couldn't, people relied upon me and I felt trapped.
Responsibility and guilt
Only a surfer knows the feeling of anxiety I felt because I knew I had a million super urgent things on, and the surf was firing, and I would not be there, the stress created by an erupting tasklist coinciding with an incoming swell, the guilt I felt when I let all the people down, people I mostly love, so I could go and play!
People needed me, my time, and I felt they took it away from me. A man with responsibility, the business, a partner, and 3 kids at their most precious ages. I thought they all depended upon me, required me, and I allowed them to, and the thing that suffered was my surf time, and me.
Missed swells, trips and years
Only a surfer knows the pain I felt with each swell I missed, each month that slipped by, each season, as another one of my years is was disappeared, my sadness as I am got worse at surfer, not better, my disgust at getting even more out of shape, my fear of getting older, slower, fatter, weaker, less inspiring to my kids, picking up more injuries, and further and further away from my dream, from surfing the waves I wanted, how I wanted to, from living the life I wanted to live, and being who I wanted to be, whilst the years I had left were getting less and less.
Small actions, small changes
I used to feel all of that, and I was not happy, I knew. And yet, I only reacted by taking small actions, ones that merely scratched at the surface of the problem. I knew I needed to take action, and opted for some quick and easy wins. I ensured I had a job and role that kept me near the ocean. I blocked out time in my calendar to surf, and tried to fight off any encroachment into those hours. I decided that on days when I didn’t surf I would swim, or run. I took so many small actions, that I hoped would add up to a greater sum. I was a surfer, I surfed, just not as much as I wanted.
All of those actions and solutions would individually make a difference for a time, but most would slip or fade through time and had to be reapplied when I noticed that I was slipping. I was putting those who depended upon me before myself and my passion. I scraped through, pushed on, stuck doggedly to my long term plan. I felt that life had me cornered. I felt trapped. If only the company would survive without me, if only we could grow to a big enough size that I could step back, or just cut my hours. I planned, I worked, I compromised, and yet I couldn’t change it.
I used all of my experience and people skills and applied them to myself, and realised I would never solve the issue fully until I addressed its route cause. I had been taking actions points that changed the environment I was working living and working in, aspects of my behaviour, my skills and capabilities and resources but, I had not dug deep enough to discover why was I so unhappy. I'd been paddling into a howling onshore as opposed to riding the wave. I needed to step away from the problem before I was able to make bigger, more significant actions, and changes.
Applying business strategy to my personal life
I know the power of knowing your values, your identity, and why we are here, as long as it’s done honestly and genuinely and you live by them! I’d thought deeply and discussed those questions in relation to my business, I had only considered them mildly from a personal perspective. Using my 20 plus years of experience from business leadership and change management, I took a strategic approach, and defined my values, who I was and wanted to be, what I wanted, why, and how I was going to get it. And once I had that figured out, it all became easy.
Living the dream
I absolutely love my life now, I am very, very happy. My friends tell me I am living the dream, they are right and I know it! My friends and family tell me I am “lighter,” walk taller, laugh easier, and smile more.
I am a lucky man. And yet, I know I made my own luck, you do in life, it’s down to the choices you make and I chose again, and chose better this time, and reshaped my life, and am glad I did. The local crew no longer tell me I should have been there yesterday, they now ask me what it was like!
I spend more time with my children and my family. My kids love having me around more. They are aware that I am not working as much, or earning as much, we have openly discussed the choice and they agree. They say life is like a holiday now. The same applies to my wife. I thought she would pressure me to get back to work, find something, start seriously pursuing the cash, but she has been fantastically supportive. She has seen the change in me, seen how much better I sleep, and act, and how much less stressed I am.
I still work. After the thinking phase, I launched the Surfers Life Club, and the Live Life Club. It turned out, if I was working on the right thing, in the right way for me, I actually quite enjoy some work. I like the challenge, the variety of the puzzles, I like trying to find the right answers to questions, I like strategy, and I like people, speaking to them, learning about them, helping them, building new relationships and friendships, and laughing with them. I no longer run a big enterprise, and do not intend to do so personally. I will direct them, and advise on strategy, and put my name and face to them, I’ve had to give away equity in them for that, but if they work, I’ll get more unearned income, one of the keys to having more time. I still do a few interviews, travel for work, get invited to talk about empowerment, self belief and lifestyle at events and on podcasts but I control my own time, and choose how much I want to work, and when, and how, and am much happier for it.
I certainly do not have enough to retire but I have some things in play now that I hope will allow me to one day.
I surf a lot. I surf a lot with my kids, and a lot on my own or with my friends. I seem to have joined the retiree club at my local break. I am fitter, and better at surfing, than I have been for years. I am not a ripper but but I do not care, I just love it. I fall a lot, as I am back to trying to surf better, I am trying, and falling, and no longer just charge down the line trying to make the most of every wave I have the time to catch.