Make Your Own Waves: A book review by Bob Morris

Make Your Own WavesMake Your Own Waves: The Surfer’s Rules for Innovators and Entrepreneurs
Louis Patler
AMACOM (July 2016)

Here are unique insights about “a way of thinking, a way of acting, and a way of pushing the limits”

Similarities, comparisons and parallels can be drawn between extraordinary entrepreneurs and peak performers in almost any athletic competition. In this book, Louis Patler offers “The Surfer’s Rules,” 10 lessons in conventional wisdom “that will serve as a guide to anyone seeking to be a successful entrepreneur.” Whatever the number and nature of the appropriate lessons may be, the fact remains that peak performance requires “planning, preparation, and passion” to contend with the waves encountered but also the ability to create one’s own waves with which others must contend.

Patler: “Being ready for an adjusting to changing conditions is one of the common skills innovators share with Big Wave surfers. My research has shown surfers, like innovators, also are comfortable in changing conditions and thrive amidst chaos…Since no two waves or opportunities are identical, both pay attention to the ‘anomalies’ – instead of relying on the familiar. Both know that in mastery over the exceptions to the rules, they can make breakthroughs. And they experiment, test, and iterate, whether it’s with new processes, products, and services or new forecasting apps, waxes, fins, and surf spots.”

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Patler’s coverage

o “The Surfer’s Rules” (Pages 1-5, 107-108, and 153-154)
o Learn to Swim (7-14)
o Preparation (9-12, 76-78, and 83-87)
o Get Wet (15-24)
o Barriers (17-21)
o Fears (20-21 and 32-33)
o Shaun Tomson (22-26 and 82-83)
o Decide to Ride (25-26)
o Always Look “Outside” (37-54)
o Commit, Charge, Shred! (55-58 and 62-65)
o Women (59-60, 80-82, and 117-120)
o Matt Bromley (63-64 and 86-87)
o Wipeouts (65-68, 88-90, and 96-106)
o Paddle Back Out (71-92)
o Preparing for Fear(s) (76-78 and 83-87)
o Learning from Mistakes (80-82)
o Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean (93-109)
o Dare Big (111-114)
o Business Waves (114-116)
o Stephanie Gilmore (117-118 and 133-134)
o Pushing Boundaries (128-132)
o Stay Stoked! (137-150)
o Surfers and Entrepreneurs (153-154)

These are among Patler’s final thoughts, shared in an Epilogue: “Thriving in today’s highly competitive environment requires departing from conventional thinking. Doing the same thing in the same way and expecting better results is a fool’s journey. [Patler has just cited Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity]…What is required is the planning, preparation, and passion that is at the core of every Big Wave surfer…and every entrepreneur. A mindset, skill set, and toolset that follow the model of ‘The Surfer’s Rules’ will surely help guide you on your journey. Fortunately, everything you need is conveniently located inside your head…and your heart. From learning to swim to staying stoked, it’s time to make your own waves.”

In this context, I reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s observation: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Some do. Most don’t. That’s true in surfing and it’s also true in the business world.

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