Living on both sides of the continent, in the Seattle area in the summer and in the Palm Beach area in the winter, makes for an extraordinary lifestyle.
If I ever find the time to write a book about the bi-coastal American dream, I surely will include a chapter about starting every year twice, which is how it feels right now as the weather warms up and we are back in the Pacific Northwest to enjoy the lush green and the beauty of this region.
A second chapter I would include is about Doctor Ocean, a special friend with great powers. Today I am writing to capture for you important lessons that I have learned this season from Doctor Ocean. Lessons you can immediately apply to your life and your work.
Five lessons from Doctor Ocean
I have travelled extensively this winter both internationally and domestically. The first thing I do upon my return home to Florida is to visit Doctor Ocean. I am disciplined about this because Doctor Ocean is the best and most caring, loving, and powerful Doctor. Whatever condition I am in, however tired I may be, Doctor Ocean immediately gets to work on reviving and renewing me.
At our local beach, the lifeguards see me as one of them, even though a few of them are half my age. I have freestyle-raced these younger men on a swim of the beach boundaries and I arrived first at the flag. On one occasion, when I rescued a drowning boy, they insisted I put on the lifeguard red swim suit. When we meet in the morning, we greet each other with, "Another great morning with Doctor Ocean, the best Doctor in the whole world."
Here are five lessons I have learned this year from Doctor Ocean:
Be new. Doctor Ocean is always new. Every morning as I get to the beach I am awed by how different it looks. During the night the ocean sculpts and reshapes the beach. Every day it reveals a new face. And the ocean itself is always fresh and shows up with new colors and currents. It is different. It is vital. It is new.
In life and at work, you and I must be new, too. Today is not a lesser version of yesterday. Today brings new potential and new opportunities. Today demands that you are new for it.
➢ How are you new today, in your thoughts, actions, and the opportunities you create?
Jump in. Earlier in the season, during the cold months, when Boston was experiencing a blizzard, and even in Southern Florida the water temperature was cold, and the lifeguards were hiding from the wind in their tower, I was often alone on the beach. On cold windy mornings, I first run into the wind and then I jump right into the water. I love the energy of the cold water and the adrenaline rush of jumping into the waves of a stormy ocean. It's an intimate visit with Doctor Ocean and it shakes away what I no longer need. There is something awesome about plunging into the discomfort of the cold ocean, jumping into the waves and testing the pull of the rip current. It changes your mental state. Doctor Ocean puts you at the edge of your alertness and resilience and challenges you to be fully alive in the moment.
You and I must find ways to jump in and come fully alive in life and at work. There is a thrill in the choice to run into a challenge and to jump in when you face the ambiguity of rapidly evolving situations that need your response and leadership.
➢ How do you teach yourself to overcome the hesitancy of discomfort? What opportunities do you have right now to run into a challenge, to jump in, to catalyze movement and to lead?
Embrace the waves. I have been working this season on my bodysurfing techniques with rolling, dancing and surfing into the waves. Doctor Oceanshows me how to embrace the waves, be nimble and quick, and master agility and control. I am discovering when to surf with the flow and when to turn right into it. The shore break can be tricky and abrupt; at times I must abort the wave to avoid a painful crash. At other times I turn in at the last moment and the wave pulls me up to stand on my feet facing the ocean.
You and I must learn to be playful in life and at work. You must find ways to be nimble and adaptive with your shape-shifting environments. Creativity, innovation and breakthrough ideas find us when we dare to embrace the waves and dance with the elements of our environment.
➢ How do you surf and dance with the waves of your life? Where can you practice going with or against the flow of conventional thinking to open a broader more versatile range of options?
Be reverent. Doctor Ocean can be surprising. The climate can change, the wind can alter direction, and the waves can become intensely more powerful. Some days the Ocean can appear calm, but right under the surface the rip current is strong. I always remember that the ocean is bigger and stronger than me and I must be respectful. If I forget for a moment, Doctor Ocean will find a way to remind me to be humble and reverent.
In life and at work, you and I must learn to be reverent. There is always a bigger unknown. There are facets you don't see or understand. If you are not awed every once in a while you are missing the bigger waves. This is a world full of crowded noise where people too easily give in to narrow views. A reverent presence is often the beginning of something better, more enlightened.
➢ What is the bigger ocean that you are swimming in? How do you engender a reverent environment with your teams and your family and friends? What can you do today to create a reverent space, where you and others can grow to a fuller expression of what's possible?
Be regenerative. Doctor Ocean always breathes in and breathes out. It takes its time for the tide to go out and then come in. And it builds from one wave to the next by gathering the power of its inner currents. There is always another wave. It is always in movement. The Ocean has an immense capacity to cleanse itself and it renews and replenishes itself and the diverse ecosystem it supports.
In life and at work, you and I must be regenerative, too. You must create a cadence that allows you and your teams to breathe in, to be reflective and to renew. And you must build cycles and rituals that celebrate change, enable movement and support the emergence of a new season.
➢ How do you enable your ecosystem to breathe in and regenerate? What rituals must you encourage to promote replenishing learning, innovation and growth?
Now it's your turn. Turn the key. Be new. Jump in. Embrace the waves. Be respectful. And be regenerative in your life and at work as you strive to create new futures for you and your people.
© Aviv Shahar