I often wonder what makes us pull up short. Why do we not step over the line between being comfortable and terrified? Between the center and the edge? Between staying the course on a path we know leads to a slow decline and another that leads to an exciting but unknown future?
It’s a question I often ask myself not only in the world of advertising and business but also in life. A couple of weeks ago I found myself contemplating the concept of the line, with big consequences. I had traveled to Tavarua, Fiji, to chase waves. The goal was to see if I was up for riding Cloudbreak (above), considered one of the top waves in the world. It’s an amazing, heavy, super-hollow wave with a fierce reputation of throwing you directly onto a dry reef if you don’t commit to the terrifying ride of a lifetime.
Fortunately, I caught Cloudbreak when it was a decent size, not like it was in July. I’ve never put myself in a situation like this in surfing before. I was humbled by the experience: I’ve never ridden a more beautiful wave, been so scared in the water or been pummeled so hard. While some of the rides were glorious, a few of the tumbles across the reef were terrifying. Yet I couldn’t get enough. I have a long way to go to be able to delicately maneuver on a wave like Cloudbreak, but I rode it and had a blast.
Sitting out in the middle of the ocean, I realized that surfing applies to a lot of life, especially innovation and advertising. Waves are essentially expressions of energy moving through the ocean. When you’re rocketing down the face of a wave – and trying to get underneath a lip and into a barrel as it comes crashing down – you can feel the energy.
Technology is a massive energy pulse expressed as a wave of change, surging through the worlds of marketing and advertising. We all must make a choice between sitting on the beach and becoming irrelevant, or launching ourselves into the unknown. If we do decide to surf these waves, it takes commitment and overcoming a lot of fear. It means changing our business models to be more nimble. It means developing new tools using agile development. But, most of all, it means accepting failure.
For those brave enough to jump in and surf the energy coursing through our industry by innovating, the waves of change will take you far and give you a canvas to express your vision in wonderful new ways.