What surfing can teach us about business

From ‘egology’ to ecology

“Mindfulness in surfing is, paradoxically, a moving out of mind into the world, moving against the grain of inner-directed thought and reflection into an acute sense of what the environment demands of us – where winds, currents, beach shapes, waves types and lunar tidal movements meet. In this sense, we move from ‘egology’ to ecology and we generate a ‘bodymindfulness”, locating ourselves in place and space” – Sam Bleakley 

The individualism of the modern society disconnects us from the natural world around us, as though we are separate from it. And this is one of the major causes of environmental destruction. Surfing, as beautifully put by Sam Bleakley in ‘Mindfulness and Surfing’, helps us recover our sensitivity to the world around us. When you surf, it is all about the environment. The speed, power and position of the waves, changing every second. The wind also constantly varying in speed and direction. Currents pulling you here and there. You have to forget yourself as the centre of the world, and submerge yourself into this wider environment. Constantly feeling, listening, watching and absorbing every detail around you. The more connected you are with all around you, the easier it is to enter a state of flow, and have a great surf.

This is a great lesson for business. What would business look like if CEOs were to feel, listen and care about their wider environments? If we approached business mindful of ourselves in place and space? Surfing definitely connects you to the power of nature, and gives you a natural respect for its forces. An attitude that can help business re-evaluate its relationship with the environment.

Business is still suffering the effects of the ‘century of the self’, the rise of individualism that left us unbalanced, too focused on ourselves and not mindful enough of the wider world of which we are a part. The conscious business movement is all about recognizing our interconnectedness so that business becomes a force for creating value for the entire planet and not just a tiny group. This recognition leads to a natural care and concern for not only the environment but for all human communities.

Through surfing and certain other sports we can recognize that the world is a gift, not a commodity. And through business we are stewarding this gift. Through the experiences in the waves, up a mountain or out at sea, we gain an inner connection to the outer world that results in a desire to protect and nurture. In this time of global environmental crises on so many fronts, let us hope that more CEOs start catching waves, and that the wisdom gained will guide their decisions in the boardroom.

“The minds of people do not need to be tuned to their own needs and purposes as much as to the needs and purposes of the environment in which they live.” S. Bleakley

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