12 Simple But Epic Lessons for a Successful Startup

Approach everything like a surfer approaches a wave: with caution, appreciation, and commitment

October 23, 2019
Amy Cosper

There is this book you need to read. Everyone should read it. It’s called “Surfer’s Code: 12 Simple Lessons for Riding through Life.” It’s not so much about the technical part of surfing. it’s about ways to approach the challenge – any challenge in life and, more importantly, finding the right headspace.

The author of this book is, not surprisingly, a world-class surfer named Shaun Tomson, who is based in Santa Barbara, California. The book is part philosophy and part life lessons, but it relates to everything you do in your life and the presence with you do those things. It is relevant to startups, founders, entrepreneurs, and, really, everyone.

Tomson is not just a surfer, he is a motivational speaker championing entrepreneurs and he is dedicated to the creation and impact of creating entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world.

He explains it this way: “Surfing is a metaphor. It’s about purpose and finding a path in life and in business. There are two aspects: Personal commitment and sharing is that power.  At its core, it is a call to purpose.”

We winnowed down some of the lessons that apply to startups because, damn, they truly are epic.

These are from “The Surfer’s Code

Rule #1: Never turn your back on the ocean

Keep your mind and awareness of everything around you. This is what creates opportunities, can alert you to danger and will teach you respect.

Rule #2: Peddle around the impact zone

Do your homework. Know your challenges, respect your obstacles – this will teach you when the time is right to seize opportunity.

Rule #3: Take the drop with commitment

Commitment and trust will always be your greatest asset. Commit to your vision as an entrepreneur. Don’t look back because you will go where you look – and if you look the wrong way, you might lose the wave.

Rule #4: Never fight a riptide

Stay alert.  Understand your challenges and know which fight to fight. Also, be prepared to roll with unexpected circumstances.

Rule #5: Always paddle back out

Keep trying. Even if you miss a wave (or an opportunity), just keep trying. Even if someone says no way, keep proving them wrong.

Rule #6: Watch out for other surfers

Take care of your people, your peers and your tribe. Be a leader and a mentor and have character, no matter what you’re doing.

Rule #7: There will always be another wave

Ok, so you miss the first wave. The next one is on its way. Same with business. Same with ideas. Same with life.

Rule #8: Always ride onto shore

Be patient. Be poised. And no matter what the ocean gives you, ride back to shore.  It’s good for the soul.

Rule #9: Pass along the stoke

Excited about your wave? Have some advice for someone about to paddle out? Share your experiences. Teach.

Rule #10: Catch a wave every day

Whatever your wave is, make it a daily thing. Make it a part of your life.

Rule #11: All surfers are joined by one ocean

Be an example. Be an inspiration. Do this every day.

Rule #12: Honor the sport of kings

Whatever you do, do it with passion and commitment.

South Africa

Read more articles