Life(and work) Lessons Learned From Surfing

Surfing is one of my passions outside of work. Having just returned from a surf trip to Nicaragua, for this weeks blog post, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about how some of my experiences in the water relate to experiences in my professional life. Here is a (in no way complete) list of some lessons learned from surfing and how they can be applied to the work environment.


Exploration is key to success

The biggest rewards (and the best waves) are granted to those who go out of their way to seek them. Fortunately, Ivy Softworks fosters an environment where we can be risk takers. Be prepared to go the distance and you will reap the rewards.

Patience pays off
We’ve been doing a lot of recruiting lately. Much like waiting for the perfect wave to come your way, waiting for the perfect hire requires patience and resolve. Often that means passing on something that’s good enough, while holding out a little longer for something great.

The ability to adapt is crucial
The ocean is in a constant state of flux. Surfers must be prepared to deal with changes in conditions. And so we must also adapt to constantly changing work challenges. Whether it’s new technologies, demands from customers, or the constant array of new design problems that always seem to pop up like a huge swell on the horizon.

Cutting your losses
Sometimes things just don’t work out. You show up to your favorite surf spot, only to find poor conditions. So you go to the next spot, and then back to the first, and so on. Just like when exploring a new product idea that isn’t quite working, you need to realize when your time and energy are better spent elsewhere.

Go beyond your perceived abilities
Sometimes you have to push yourself beyond what you’re comfortable with. To make progress, whether it’s surfing bigger waves or developing the next great product, you must go beyond your current abilities. Having a good surf buddy to help push your limits is invaluable, just as being surrounded by a talented group of people in the workplace is necessary to achieve success.

Some days you’re on, some days you’re off
In both surf and work, there’s going to be days when you’re not at your best. It’s important to not feel defeated in these moments. You’ll almost always bounce back the next day. Fortunately, we have a great team here at Ivy Softworks who will do their best to pick you up when you’re down.

  • Michael Neu

    Good stuff Justin. I’ve always been amazed how surfing and connecting with nature, can help balance and drive ideas in other areas of my life. I actually wrote a quick post a little while back making some of the same connections from surfing to tech.

  • Justin Martin

    Thanks Michael. Took a look at your post as well. I think you nailed the startup experience perfectly.