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When Life Gives You Waves, Learn to S.U.R.F.

By Frank F. Lunn

Would you like to learn a skill set and technique so powerful that you could learn to recycle every failure, disappointment, setback and discouraging situation into a steppingstone for your success? Would you like to go into every situation with confidence knowing you will have the skills to convert it into an experience with a positive benefit?

Imagine skilled and highly trained fighters going into a difficult and scary situation. They don't go looking for it, but when it comes, they are ready and prepared. They realize it will probably be very painful and even scary, but with their training and developed skill set, their odds are favorable.

You have an opportunity to use the same approach to adversities and difficulties entering our lives. We don't go looking for adversity; it finds us. We can't necessarily avoid pain or suffering, but if we use our training, we have a better chance for survival and eventually find some benefit or lesson we can take and claim a victory.

Change, difficulties and adversity will happen. Your only point of control is the surfing skill set you develop to adapt and make the best out of whatever comes your way. It is not really what happens to you that matters as much as your response to what happens. Your response determines your outcome. Think of change and adversity as waves of the ocean, then consider your response to those waves. Success is not necessarily in your talents and abilities, but in the choices you make in application to the waves. You can't change or fight the wave. Your only real choice is to adapt to it.

Apply the S.U.R.F. Strategy to Make the Best of the Waves

The S.U.R.F. Strategy is a simple, quick strategy to adapt and positively respond to whatever waves come your way. This keeps your attitude as an ally working for you rather than an adversary working against you. You cannot control the waves; you can only control your response and develop the skills to adapt to whatever comes your way.

The Four Steps of the S.U.R.F. Strategy

The S.U.R.F. strategy involves four steps:

  • Survey the situation

  • Understand your options

  • Respond based on your goals

  • Forward focus in action and attitude

1.Survey the Situation

When you are tumbled by a wave (adversity), you have to regain your bearing and figure out exactly where you are. Leave emotion behind and survey your situation. What new opportunities might be found or developed? Now is the opportunity to create a new plan. It might be tempting to get caught up in the heat of the moment and feel like you are without options. Take a step back to gain perspective. With an understanding of where you are and what choices you have, you can make the most of the opportunities.

2.Understand Your Options

After you know where you are, begin to assess options for moving forward. Focus only on solutions. After you survey your situation, it's time to make way for positive solutions and options. Ask questions like: "What can I gain? or "What contacts can I make? Maintain a positive outlook regardless of the situation - even if you do not immediately see the opportunity. Stay focused on the outcome you want and where you want to go.

Look optimistically for creative ways to use the situation for good - don't lament your misfortune. The opportunity may be hidden. Learn to look for it. This is a creative success habit, and it only comes with practice. Become an opportunity farmer. Look for the hidden benefits behind each change and every situation.

3.Respond Based on Your Goals

Now assess the options in front of you. Some may be better than others. Some may be more complicated or difficult to see. Weigh the pros and cons of each option. You might find your best option right now is to persist in your current situation. You may find yourself riding a wave bigger than you think you can handle. It may be a wild ride, but at least it will be interesting.

Remember, you always have choices. The only thing you can control is your attitude. Regardless of the wave, you have the power to choose. Make sure your response is in line with your goals.

4.Forward Focus in Action and Attitude

You can't surf yesterday's wave. The past is the past. Now it is time to think creatively toward the future. Take positive action. Don't let things happen to you. Create the conditions and outcomes you seek! Now that you are surfing the wave, maintain focus on where you want to go and what you want to do. Maintain a vivid mental image of your successful future finding ways to keep taking action in that direction.

When Bad Surf Happens to Good Surfers

As you surf life's waves, you will see good waves and bad ones. You will have some awesome rides and some gnarly wipe outs. You will meet fellow surfers who want to help you out and those who would rather beat you down. There will be sunny days to enjoy the beach. There will also be storms that take away your enjoyment and opportunity as the sea becomes unstable and unsuitable for your purposes. Injustice, rude people, hardships, difficulties and even some bad things will happen in your life. We cannot control those. The only thing we can control is our attitude and the actions we choose to take in response.

Living is not about playing it safe. Test yourself. Learn the full measure of your surfing ability. Do not hide from the waves. You can learn from both your great rides and your wipe outs. Opportunity does not come to the passive. Be active and create your opportunities. Sometimes opportunities only come through difficult situations. Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it. How you choose to respond to adversity reveals your true character. Your true character is uncovered in the actions of your response and in the choices you make. Your character is revealed in the promises you keep and in the convictions you hold true. Ultimately, your character is a mirror of the guiding principles in your life. What you do and say reveal to the world who you are.

You Cannot Control the Weather

Neither you nor I can control the weather. We cannot control what it will be today and we cannot affect in any way what it will be tomorrow. It is what it is. The same weather will make some people joyous and others miserable. When there is a snow day that shuts down everything, kids rejoice, while parents who need to miss work or scramble for child care do not. Rain is great when the farmers need it for the crops and devastating when the river peaks the levies. Hot sunny days are fantastic for people to enjoy a picnic, yet miserable when you are in the field working.

Weather in itself is neither good nor bad. It is up to us in our decision of how we choose to weather our personal storms and whether they leave us stronger and more resolute or weakened and cowering until the next one. In the same way, adversities are going to come your way, just like the waves of the ocean. All you can really do about them is learn to surf...and convert challenges, difficulties and hardships into opportunities.

About The Author

Frank F. Lunn is President and CEO of Kahuna Empowerment, Inc. and author of the E-book, Blessings In Adversity: Convert Challenges, Difficulties and Hardships Into Blessings and New Opportunities. Download it for free, and find out more about the Blessings In Adversity Campaign, at http://www.blessingsinadversity.com.


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