Tag Archive for: life lessons

Thank You, Kelly

10 Feb
February 10, 2022
Photo: Brent Bielmann for WSL

On Saturday afternoon in pumping 10- to 12-foot surf at one of the world’s most dangerous breaks, Kelly Slater made history … again. The 11x world champ won the Billabong Pipe Masters just six days shy of his 50th birthday. He took the final against 24-year-old Seth Moniz, a world-class talent, North Shore local and Pipeline specialist.

 It was Kelly’s 8th Pipe Masters title and 56th event win of his illustrious career, one that spans 30 years, 832 heat victories and 31 perfect 10-point rides. He is the youngest world champ ever (age 20 in 1992) and the oldest ever (age 39 in 2011). He won 5-straight world titles from 1994 to 1998 and holds nearly every record of significance in professional surfing.

 As word spread around the net about Kelly’s most recent – and possibly, greatest and maybe even last professional milestone (he referenced the “R” word) – images of his incredible rides and emotional post-heat interview began popping up on social media. If you are connected to surfing at all, you likely came across a few of them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

 On Sunday morning, I even saw a post about it on LinkedIn. It garnered a handful of likes and made me feel good to see it there. But it also gave me pause to consider all those people for whom the post might have seemed trivial on the professional careers network, as well as others who might have noticed it only briefly on various other platforms while quickly scrolling through the news of the day. 

 For many, Kelly’s historic accomplishment may have been nothing more than a passing headline in their newsfeed, a novel tidbit about a vague personality in a sport that is too often associated with frivolous immaturity. But for those of us who surf, who through some serendipitous fortune have had the opportunity to witness the entirety of Kelly’s incredible decades-long career, it was and is something far more meaningful and consequential.

 There is a poem by Samuel Ullman titled, “Youth”. General Douglas MacArthur used to keep a framed copy of it on his wall and often referenced it in speeches. In it, Ullman reflects:

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life … Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage, and power from men and from the infinite, so long are you young.”                              

 I am not big on celebrity culture and I have never been one for hero-worship. But what are heroes? In their simplest form, they are people who do something more. They work harder, persevere longer, take more risks, and make greater sacrifices. They inspire us to change and to do more, ourselves.

 As a 50-something who still surfs regularly (your average free-surfer, but I’m out there), who remains professionally and creatively inspired, and has never been willing to forsake my physical health, stop chasing my dreams or setting my personal goals one inch lower because that’s the expectation of culture for people my age; that’s what Kelly’s victory in the powerful surf at Pipe, his current World #1 ranking days before his 50th birthday (February 11th), and the entirety of his career, mean to me.

 It is about optimism and the challenge of remaining true to one’s ideals.

For the greater part of my adult life, Kelly has been one who has inspired these things in myself and so many others– to pursue life with vigor and passion; set goals based not on what others think, but on terms you set for yourself, and to believe anything is possible, something more – far more – than most others might even be able to imagine. Yes, there will always be wins and losses, but why burden yourself with pre-conceived notions and limitations?

 To Kelly, on behalf of myself and millions like me who have followed every step of your remarkable career, I say, Happy 50th Birthday. Thank you for your unyielding optimism and countless messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power played out across so many waves and oceans, and for so many years.

 Thank you for your enthusiasm, your unfailing childlike appetite for what’s next, and joy for the game of living. Thank you most of all for a lifetime of inspiration and for holding fast to that wonder that lives in the center of your own heart, and in ours.

Believing in Yourself: A Letter to My Daughters

08 Apr
April 8, 2014

Surfingfamilyonbeach_2

Dear Kendall & Kaelyn,

I am writing this letter because I wanted to share some important thoughts with both of you- what I consider powerful life lessons that I hope both of you will be able to draw upon for the rest of your lives.

I’ve probably shared some of this advice with both of you here and there in the past, but likely in bits and pieces, and not in a more formal, meaningful way. But the things I want you both to understand are so much more important than that. So, I thought it might be helpful to write them down, so that both of you might be able to save and reference them from time to time, should either of you ever feel you might need to hear them again. I believe this is exactly the kind of information that all of us need to be reminded of over and over again, throughout our lives.

Both of you are embarking on exciting phases of your lives with unlimited opportunities right in front of you! And while these are exciting times, I know they can also be challenging.

Kendall, you are navigating your freshman year in high school, taking an extremely challenging schedule of honors courses (including a college-level class) and ramping up your ballet regimen, all at the same time.

Kaelyn, you are also facing a much more rigorous school schedule and have recently begun to pursue soccer at a very high competitive level for the first time.

So, here are a few things that you should both know. These are “secrets” that nearly all of the world’s most successful people understand- whether their successes are rooted in academics, athletics, wealth, family, career or all of these areas. And while you may have heard some of these ideas before, what you need to understand is they are not clichés. They are powerful, profound truths that can change your life if you simply embrace them fully.

The first and most important thing that both of you need to understand is that either of you can achieve anything you set your minds to. There are no limits to what the human spirit can achieve when you simply believe in yourself. We only limit ourselves when we begin to doubt and restrict ourselves with fear (fear of failure; fear of embarrassing ourselves; fear of looking silly; etc.). Understand that fear is a barrier for all things in life. It is what most often most prevents people from fulfilling their potential because they were too afraid to try something new; to speak up; to risk looking foolish… or to risk anything at all.

You may have heard the saying, “With great risk comes great reward”. Guess what? It’s true!

Now, does this mean that if we do take risks, that we’ll never fail? No!!! Everyone fails, sometimes! But we would never even know what was possible, if we didn’t take some calculated risks. And we can minimize those risks further by believing in ourselves and having confidence- knowing that we will succeed! This is the very nature of faith. God did not create us with any limits.

So does this mean that by simply believing, we can accomplish certain things? If I believed I could be a world champion surfer, could I beat Kelly Slater in a surf contest? Could I develop a cure for cancer simply because I believed I was capable? No! We have to work for success, and prepare for it. Success is never easy. Kelly’s been preparing his whole life for his success and people who do incredible things like discovering cures for diseases or winning Nobel prizes in literature or science have dedicated the same time and preparation in their academics. Success requires hard work and discipline.

Consider this: Even Jesus, before he began his ministry, had to prepare. God sent him into the wilderness for 40 days all by himself, especially for this purpose. He faced extreme challenges- loneliness, temptation… even Satan, himself! Why did God allow this? After all, he was God and could do anything, right? Because he was preparing Jesus for his life as a man- a human being like one of us, and for what he would face in his lifetime. He was strengthening him to be successful.

Believing is only the first step.

Once you believe in yourself, you begin to understand that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. This in turn gives you the confidence to realize that when you dedicate the time to working hard and preparing yourself, and then you proceed without fear- then you will be able to achieve whatever your goals are in life, with the only limitations being those you place upon yourself.

If you believe that you could never be as good a soccer player as this girl or that girl, then you won’t be. If you think to yourself, “I’ll never be as graceful as that dancer”, then you won’t be. If you believe, “I could never surf a wave that big”, then you never will. If you tell yourself, “I would never be brave enough to stand up in front of the class and do that” or “I could never get into that college”, then you won’t.

Conversely, if you believe that you can do all of these things, and you know that by putting in consistent work, you will move ever closer towards your goals, then you will be able to do all of these things- and more!  This is why they say, “life is a self-fulfilling prophecy”– because you get what you expect in life.

It is very important to me that both of you recognize and understand these profound life principles and that you commit yourselves to living by them. Both of you have your whole lives right in front of you! And your mom and I want you to dream big and understand that there is nothing limiting either of you- nothing holding you back from doing anything you want to do, or being anyone you want to be, other than those limits you choose to place upon yourselves.

I would encourage both of you to make a habit of setting your self-doubts aside, learning to recognize fear for what it is- only a false barrier and to believe in yourselves, unfailingly. Nothing is impossible! Recognize that hard work, self-discipline and a positive attitude will always allow you to accomplish anything you might desire in this life.

I hope that you will take these ideas to heart, live by them and share them with those around you. Remember that the only thing greater than understanding the power of these principles is helping others learn to recognize and apply them, as well.

Love,

Dad

Sacred Vows

06 Mar
March 6, 2012

Sacred Vows

As Dane Reynolds patently reaffirmed for us this past year, often the most interesting things about surfing the planet are not the waves you score, but rather the people you meet and experiences you have beyond your sessions. Like him, I relish this aspect of surf travel and have always been conscious to seek out and soak up these transcendent occasions.

Our world is so big, diverse and ever-changing.

If you’ve ever stood atop a 14,000 foot mountain and tried to make sense of the enormity of the world around you; sat in a foreign lineup and tripped out on a pre-historic jungle hugging the shore; or even marveled at feats of engineering in a concrete jungle of towering skyscrapers, well then… you understand what I’m saying.

Our lives are fleeting.

In the context of time, we are not on this earth for a moment. Not even a breath of a moment. Tomorrow is not promised to us. Nor, even the next second. So, you’ve got to seize every opportunity to experience life, and just “go.”

It was with this mindset that I related the importance of surfing and traveling in my life to my bride-to-be long ago, as we planned for our future. As someone who has enjoyed the indescribable blessings of a true soul mate and happy marriage for years, I can inform you that helping to ensure this has the best chance of being the case doesn’t require all the formalities of pre-marriage counseling and meetings with a Pastor– just the simplest bits of common sense.

My wife and I established our compatibility and commitment to one another over the course of a couple of years of dating (always wise). As a result, when our minds turned to something a little more permanent, something like a lifetime– well, we actually got things squared away in about half an hour.

Had we both dated long enough to know with certainty what kind of people we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with? Check. Did we share the same religious beliefs? Check. Were we good with combining bank accounts and tossing everything else into one big pile? Check. Could we agree to hold off on kids for a bit to ensure that our marriage was sound, and to play with each other for a couple of years? Check.

It wasn’t rocket science.

But as a surfer, there was one more thing that I had to add to that list– my undying love for and commitment to, surfing and surf-travel. (Until death would do us part.)

I informed my future wife, Gretchen, that years before the time I had ever met her– from those earliest days until eternity, I had already committed to a lifetime of chasing waves and new experiences in places near and far. And I wasn’t about to go back on this promise to myself. As I looked into the future and imagined a day when kids, careers and yard work might slowly pilfer away the friends that I had once surfed and traveled with, I assured her that I would never succumb to these same “traps”– that I would forever be limited only by the resources that enabled me to continue to “go.”

I told her that if she were willing, I would love to share these experiences with her. And that if not– if she wasn’t interested or resolved in the idea of a bit of adventure, and if one day the boys just couldn’t pull it all together, well then– I’d still be going…

I’d just be traveling solo.

Fortunately, she was stoked. And we never looked back.

Today, while we’ve still only seen and surfed a fraction of the places on this earth that beckon, sharing these adventures with her, and now– our children, has made chasing these moments all the more pressing and fundamental.

Author’s Note: This is my latest piece for The Inertia, a leading-edge highly-popular action sports website based out of California billed as, “The Planet’s Largest Network of Thinking Surfers” To see the response and full discussion of the article, please visit: http://www.theinertia.com/author/tim-hamby/

 

The Beach Boy, The Rebel & The Mad Man: Authentic Wisdom From Bogusky, Clow & Hughes

23 Oct
October 23, 2011

Safe is Risky: The Rewards of Facing Your Fears

04 Dec
December 4, 2010

"Safe" is Risky: The Rewards of Facing Your Fears

The 2010 Winter Olympics are behind us and I for one am sad to see them go. There were so many compelling moments that defined the Vancouver Games for me, from snowboarder Shaun White’s incredible Double McTwist 1260 in the half-pipe (a trick only he can perform); to Apolo Ohno passing the Chinese team in the anchor lap of the 5000 meter short track relay to become the most decorated American in Winter Olympic history; to the final frantic seconds of regulation and overtime in the US–Canada gold medal hockey game. But nothing brought me to edge of my seat like Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller’s exhilarating performances in the men’s and women’s downhill.

What I love so much about all of our Olympic Athletes and find so well-exemplified in these two in this event, is their absolute understanding and embracement of a simple, but profound principle, one I believe creatives should never forget: That distinguishing achievement often requires more than talent and training; more than skill and desire; more than preparation or luck. It most often requires exceptional courage and a willingness to take extraordinary risks. And that’s not easy or natural for anyone.

Consider that when Vonn raced, in addition to a badly bruised leg, she also faced the pressures of a spectacular run by teammate Julia Mancuso, just moments earlier. Vonn was rattled. But rather than downplay the moment, Lindsey’s husband and coach, Thomas, who had just finished watching Mancuso’s blazing finish from his position at the bottom of the hill, radioed up to his wife, who was nervously fidgeting at the starting gate, specifically to confirm for her that Mancuso had just completed a “special run”; and to relate, “You’re going to have to be perfect to win.”

Vonn would later state that this simple, strategically calculated message from her husband allowed her to “focus on that challenge” and “let go of her fears”. She subsequently took the most aggressive lines all the way down the mountain, coming perilously close to wiping out at nearly every turn. The result: she beat Mancuso’s “sepcial run” by over a full half-second.

Likewise, ignoring treacherous course conditions resulting from warm weather and light snow, Bode Miller attacked the downhill course with reckless abandon to become the first American men’s skier to stand on the podium for that event since Tommy Moe, sixteen years ago. His bronze medal time was 1:54.40, only nine one-hundredths of a second behind gold medalist, Didier Defago, the smallest differential ever between gold and bronze in Olympic history. Said Miller of his and the American team’s performance: “We went after it. We weren’t scared. We were always aggressive.”

Of course, while a willingness to lay it all on the line can pay huge dividends as it did in both of these instances, it never guarantees success, and often sets the stage for spectacular failure. Later, attempting to go 5 for 5 in Olympic events in the slalom –the one event for which he had not won an Olympic medal– on a challenging course of sticky, wet snow that was proving difficult for many of the racers, Miller did not change his approach. The consequence: he ran into trouble almost right out of the gate. Said Miller,  “It’s unfortunate to go out so early, but you have to take risks… and I did.”

I believe creatives from designers, to copywriters, to marketing strategists should take the same approach as Miller, Vonn and others and not allow themselves to be constrained by fear. I appreciate creatives who are willing to explore their most conceptual ideas, even if it results in more misses than hits. I know that doing so will give them their best chance to come up with something great, which is the only thing I ever want to present to a client.Great creative work must always take a point of view. It has to have “something to say” to be memorable. Remember that people respond to “different” and “unpredictable”. In this sense, “safe” is risky. The real problems begin when fear- the fear of mistakes, the fear of looking foolish, the fear that someone won’t “get” your idea, prevents you from saying anything at all.

I once heard Jeff Kling, ECD of Euro RSCG put it this way: “Screw-ups are tools of evolution. They help us survive.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement. Remember also that in the business of marketing and advertising, we’re not looking to connect with the 80% of people who may not “get”, like, or even care about our creative, but rather the 20% who do and are inspired to act upon it.

So the next time you’re faced with a daunting creative challenge (or business challenge, or life challenge), don’t allow yourself to become compromised by fear. Rather, recognize that most of life’s rewards do not come without risk; that we all fall down sometimes; and that even those instances leave us better prepared to make some truly extraordinary runs in the future.

If nothing else, we’ll put people on the edge of their seats. At least for marketers, that’s our job.

Keeping the Challenges of Business in Perspective

22 Nov
November 22, 2010

Keeping the Challenges of Business in Perspective

Yesterday afternoon, I attended the memorial of friend and business associate, Stephen George William Parker. Stephen lost a year-long battle with cancer last Sunday. He was only 46. A large group of family and friends gathered to celebrate his life under an ocean pavilion at the St. Augustine Pier. When my day comes, I’d like to be remembered exactly as Stephen was– with warm ocean breezes, good food, cold beverages and a live band, along with a low-key slideshow and a few heartfelt remembrances from family and friends.

For those that didn’t know Steve, he was a kind and generous guy– always quick with a smile and a wry remark, often laced with a little self-depreciating humor. He loved traveling, music, the ocean and his family- including his wife, Cindy; their two daughters; and his three brothers, with whom he was very close.

Like many of us here in North Florida, Stephen was a survivor of the real estate market meltdown. He was Vice President of Parker Associates, a real estate development / and marketing consultation firm where he shared duties with his father David, and older brother, Chris. From Florida, to Costa Rica, to Russia, if you wanted to know what to build upon a certain piece of property; how to position it; price it; and market it; then these guys could tell you. Their endurance through the market turmoil is a testament to their expertise and professionalism. With markets still trying to find their way forward and property changing hands, their insights today are more valuable than ever.

As many from Jacksonville (we, who lived “inside” of one of the nation’s largest real estate bubbles), will tell you, the battle back has been long and arduous. And while Steve and his family have overcome incredible challenges that saw so many other real-estate related companies fail over these past 2.5 years, the merciless serial killer that is cancer came along and buggered up the victory celebration for all of us.

Or perhaps I should say, “almost all of us”. Not for Stephen, himself.

You see, what those closest to Stephen reassured us was that he passed away with absolutely no regrets. He never waited for life to “happen” to him, but always “attacked” it with gusto. If there was a place he wanted to visit, but he didn’t have the funds, he’d find a way to get them. When there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day for the business at hand, he’d still find a way to get the job done and do so without sacrificing time for his family, friends or even just acquaintances, who he always made feel important. To me, achieving this kind of balance is what defines a “successful” life.

Today more than ever, it is easy to lose sight of the immeasurable value that each day holds and the pricelessness of the people we spend those days with. Our family. Our friends. Our co-workers. Yes, we face a challenging economy and uncertain times. Yes, technological evolution has enabled, and as a result, required us to fit more tasks into fewer hours, often for less money, raising the bars for efficiency and production to ever higher levels.

But at the end of each day, or more appropriately, at the beginning– we owe it to ourselves to pause and reflect on the things that truly matter in this life. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. We are not even guaranteed our next breath. So, if you wish to live a life with no regrets, the kind of life that Stephen George William Parker lived, then don’t wait on it to come to you. Go out and grab it. At home. At work. On the beach. And remember to always do it without losing sight of the important people around you. You never know when they’ll be gone. Steve, we will miss you.

 

 

 

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