Today I caught my first wave. Not a big deal for those that have spent many hours learning the craft of surfing, but for me it represented a huge leap. Not just because I actually managed to hold my own and get up on the board, an accomplishment in itself, but mainly for the lessons it taught me in not listening to your inner voice of self doubt.

To put this into context, I’m currently on a yoga retreat in Nicaragua. A bit of an experiment of combining work, travel, time to reset. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes, but firstly I wanted to share some experiences with you. To illustrate how the smallest steps can lead to huge leaps in self development and change.

When not to listen to your inner voice?

Most people understand the concept of fight or flight; our bodies natural way of reacting to fear, but how do we know when to listen to our inner voice? You know the one that tells us we’re ‘no good’ at something, or we can’t do something.

15 years ago whilst on holiday in Fuertoventura I tried surfing for the first time. I was at a stage in my life where I had less baggage that affected my decision making, but I was still very apprehensive.

The best way of describing that experience, was that of a human washing machine, rather than any real attempts on standing on the board.

After an hour and a half lesson I was beaten and settled on the fact that it was perhaps ‘not my thing’

When we were asked at the beginning of this week ‘Who wants a surf lesson?’, I could have very easily listened to the narrative that I’d been telling myself for all these years that ‘I suck at surfing’.

Instead I followed the flow of general nods around the dinner table and committed to my 2nd ever surf lesson. I told myself, who knows, perhaps this time it might be different?

Setting Intentions can help you overcome fear

I believe in the power of saying ‘yes’, something which I see as so underrated.

When you’re a child, people refer to peer pressure as a negative influence, but actually a little FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), combined with a little external pressure can sometimes make the difference between challenging or learning something new about ourselves, and actually having fun.

Left to my own device I would have missed out on so many great experiences over the years without a blend of the all the above.

In yoga you’re encouraged to set intentions for the class, or even the day. Today my intention was not to be so hard on myself.

I can be my own worst enemy, by putting myself down, or not believing in myself, so as I approached my second surf lesson, the intention I set out was to not compare myself to others and just give it a go.

Enjoying the experience reduces the pressure of perfection

Whether it was because I has set the bench very low, or whether it was the positive company of Erik and Erin, our teacher, Eduardo or simply my attitude, I had the best hour and half out on the water. With ‘Eduardo’s seamless teaching technique and patience I managed to catch each wave and with a few wobbles I stood each time!

Now I’m no Kelly Slater, but even I was impressed with myself. Perhaps this was because I had told myself I was already winning by simply being there.

Coaching yourself through lived experiences

I had the best time out on that water. Admittedly Nicaragua beats the Canary Islands hands down, but one huge lesson for this week is that judging myself so harshly is not the way to overcome self doubt.

Sure, sometimes you try and fail. Sometimes you try and succeed, but mostly I think happiness comes from how you picture ‘success’.

For me success was creating a memory, a shared experience.

Here’s to catching more waves, and creating more memories – thank you to Erik, Erin and Eduardo for being a huge part of this shared experience.

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