There is an unmarked dirt road along the Hana Highway, on the North shore of Maui, not far past the town of Pa’uwela. The only landmark is a small general store on the opposite side.
The nondescript road, which at times is only accessible via 4 wheel drive, leads to Pe’ahi, which is home to one of the most challenging surf sites in the world.
This surf site – or “break” – is called Jaws.
Jaws was discovered in the late 1960s. Its waves reach heights of 60 feet or more.
The water around Jaws is so treacherous that it is a “tow-in” site. Surfers have to be towed out to the break by a jet ski or other personal watercraft.
Today, Jaws is a popular location for big wave surfing competitions. One such competition, the Pe’ahi Challenge, draws the best surfers in the world to test their mettle against the massive waves.
All leaders are called upon to solve problems, tackle challenges and face risks. Not all of them are “Jaws Sized.” But, nonetheless, we can learn important lessons from these world class athletes who battle the world’s biggest waves.
Today, let’s consider nine leadership principles that Jaws models for us.
One – Be Prepared
No one surfs Jaws unprepared. Doing so can cost your life. It takes years of experience, safety training and specialized equipment to successfully ride these waves.
Similarly, leaders need to assess and calculate the risk of any endeavor and address it with proper preparation.
Two – Embrace the Risk
Once prepared, move forward and embrace the risk. Those who allow themselves to be paralyzed by excessive analysis, caution or hesitation will often miss out on the most lucrative opportunities or benefits for their organizations.
Three – You Will Fail
Any surfer will tell you that failure is part of the process. If you fall, regroup and tackle the next wave. You may ride that one successfully. Learning from each failure prepares you for eventual success.
Four – Let Some Waves Pass By
Not every wave is worth riding. Leaders need to exercise discernment in which risks are worth the effort. As good as the opportunity seems, there will always be another wave.
Five – Courage Includes Fear
World class surfers regularly face fear or anxiety. So do leaders. But, they still proceed. Courage, then, is tackling the challenge head on in the presence of fear and breaking through it.
Six – Make Quick Adjustments
Today’s enterprises demand agility. Watching a surfer ride Jaws, it is apparent that they are intimately in touch with their surroundings and are making real time adjustments in order to successfully complete their run. Leaders need to do the same.
Seven – Big Risks Yield Big Payoffs
Many times – not always – the biggest risks result in the biggest payoffs. Avoiding risk won’t serve your leadership well over the long haul and will reduce your impact.
Eight – Tough Problems Foster Innovation
Learning to navigate Jaws resulted in huge innovations in surf equipment and technology. Surfers invented solutions as they rode the waves. Leaders need to do the same.
Nine – Competition Accelerates Competency
Nothing builds skill like competing with the best. You’ll grow from being in the game, and will gain strength for your next effort.
In closing, click below to watch the 2 minute video. There is no better way to wrap up today.
Thanks to Shaun Stodder and Maui Media Cartel for permission to use this in today’s post.
See you on the beach.