Persist or quit

Knowing whether to persist or quit… lessons from waves and rips

Waves versus rip currents… knowing whether to persist or quit

Ever had those times when things don’t go plan, maybe even go in the complete opposite direction and you just didn’t know whether to persist or quit?

Is there any way you can tell which is the right option? Because the earlier we know, surely the better off we’ll be. After all, why pursue something that is doomed to fail, and just as importantly, why give up on something that is about to give results…

Of course, sometimes it’s easy to know than others… but there are clues to help improve your chances of working out the best option… and some of those clues, can be seen by comparing waves and rip currents.

So what can waves and rips teach us about knowing when you’re about to get the breakthrough, and when it’s it time to change direction.

How to know when to hold course and get ready for the wave.

As a kid, I lived near a great beach in and used to love catching waves on my body board. Being able to ride a massive wall of water has a thrill and enjoyment that is hard to describe… no matter what area of life we look at, there is usually some form of ‘wave’ we would like to catch… and catching the waves of life is fun.

Achieving goals, getting fitter, securing contracts, being part of a successful project, a winning team, these are all great waves.

Before the wave…
However, before a wave comes, something interesting happens… in fact, something quite the opposite of what you want…

You see, if there’s a wave coming and it’s very close, the water level will typically drop and can you suck you a little away from the shore… which is the exact opposite of why you’re there. No one who wants the wave wants to go backwards and drop down lower, but no matter what area of life the wave is in, it seems to be that’s exactly what happens.

Of course, if you know that’s what is happening, it’s a little easier to deal with. After all, if you can see the wave coming, the drop in water level is rather exciting, as your ride is very close! Of course, the bigger the wave, the bigger the drop… the further forward the momentum, the bigger the pull backwards before it hits.

The key is, to know that it’s a wave and that’s how waves work.
So that goal you’re going for, that opportunity, what if it’s just really close?

How to know you’re stuck in a rip current and need to get out.

The thing is though, not everything that pulls you backwards is a wave… sometimes there is no wave coming, and you just need to change course. These are the rip currents.

In researching a bit about rips (many thanks to the beach safe website by Surf Life Saving Australia), I found some interesting facts about identifying rips.

Firstly, rip currents are formed as the water that waves bring to the shore needs to go back out to sea.

It seems then, that trying to chase a past wave, is likely to get you stuck in a rip… Because that water is now heading away from shore. The opportunity to catch wave is gone, so don’t get sucked in.

Next of course, is that trying to persist in a strong rip, is just going to make you tired, give you no results and could even be life threatening.

Another interesting thing about rips, is that they’re worst at low tide. Like opportunities, some waves have more water beneath them than others… where there’s big waves on shallower water, the rips will move much faster. A low tide of business confidence for example, can cause losses to happen much faster and with more devastating effect. Where have you seen a low tide speed up the consequences of rips?

When you’re in a rip, you just need to navigate a way out, acknowledge that you’ve lost some ground, but it’s time to move on. In the event that you can’t do it alone, you need to raise your hand and get assistance… hopefully you were smart enough to swim between the flags.

Keys to telling the difference between waves and rip currents

Whilst rips can be unpredictable, both waves and rips leave vital clues…


1. Waves follow waves and success follows success

At many great beaches, all the best surfers will usually be in one section of the beach, as they know that it’s the area where they’ll be able to catch the waves.

Likewise, success leaves clues, and the best way to find it, is to hang out others with a proven track record of being able to identify what works and what doesn’t.
You can catch a wave no one else is on, but to find that wave, nothing beats the habit of learning from those who have surfed your type of wave previously.

2. Rips are next to the waves… it may be quiet for a reason

The water flowing in waves needs somewhere to go, and where the rips are going out to sea, the water is typically calmer. Sometimes what we tell ourselves is an untapped opportunity, is actually just an idea that sucks… andWaves and rips will leave you feeling ripped off (puns intended)

3. Swim between the flags… and if you get stuck in a rip, there’ll be assistance

When pursuing a goal, you need to know what level of risk you’re willing to accept. A common trait I’ve seen amongst the best investors and entrepreneurs, is that they have a way of limiting their risks, and have a clear picture of how much risk is okay… you can’t always see the rips, sometimes they’re right in amongst the very waves you’re about to catch. What you can do, is make sure that you swim between the flags on a patrolled beach

Surf’s Up!

The great thing is, in terms of opportunities, the surf is up… in terms of health and fitness, there are great resources. For business, technology is providing unprecedented opportunities. However, the bigger the surf our goal is in, the more we need to be aware of the difference between waves and rips.

If you have any other thoughts on this topic, feel free to share them below…