Beginning surfers regularly learn on foam covered, soft(ish) beginner boards at surf schools. Progression after that demands choice.
Many people exclusively ride what are know as ‘longboards’ - boards that are nine feet or more long. Boards of this length fit waves in specific ways. They have their own style of being surfed. Big, sweeping turns, pivots on the tail and nose riding - think hanging 10 - are all part of a long board style.
Short board surfing? That’s a different game. These super small, high performance machines are used for performing quick, slashing turns, slapping the lip of the wave (WHA-PAH!) and launching surfers into stratospheric airs.
As I progressed as a surfer, I prided myself on being able to ride all different kinds of boards. Some days, I surfed a board under six feet long and shaped like a fish. On other waves, I pulled out one of my longboards. I wanted to surf all different boards on all different waves.
Shortboards were more satisfying. I loved whipping around and having really high quality experiences. Longboards, though less exciting to ride allowed me to catch many more waves.
I’ve found over time that boards under six feet long really tire out my almost fifty year old body. Though I love how maneuverable they are, my lack of stamina impedes my enjoyment of playing with them. Longboards I find cumbersome and I haven’t spent the years, marching to the nose to get really good at longboarding.
What to do?
Though it took ten years, I’m now pretty certain about what’s optimal for me.
These days I love in between boards. I have two ‘mid-length’ board s that seem to suit most conditions that I’m willing to surf. I’ve found some places and techniques that work well for me.
It seems that the arc of my freelancing career mirrors that as a surfer.
As a therapist, I tried a lot of things. Career transition consulting and vocational rehabilitation work was a lot like longboarding. I did a lot of work but much of it wasn’t super satisfying. Most of it was about writing letters and pleasing my corporate overloads.
Couples counseling was super tricky and, at times, really rewarding. Maneuvering through the intertwined lives of a couple in distress was a lot like surfing big, dangerous, critical waves. Though thrilling, the work really tired me out.
Now? I work with people whose relationships are in dire distress. When they think things are the darkest I’m there. I get to do intense work without the entanglements of having a couple in the room.
The educational industrial complex frequently pushes us to be all things for all people.
Do you ride one kind of 'career surfboard’?
Is your business one where you’re trying to be all things to all people?
How could thinking about this help you improve the results for the people you serve and the waves you surf?