This series of “Lessons from Al” is dedicated to the life and legacy of one of the most influential mentors in my life, career, and management, Al Berg.
We celebrated the $50 million year.
We celebrated the $100 million year.
We celebrated the first $1 million day.
But Al never let us ride the wave for long. He made sure we quickly got back to the basics, to the place of looking for new ideas and added improvements.
Al was not one to rest on his laurels; nor would he allow his team to do so.
He taught us to celebrate these exciting milestones, then quickly move forward to the next higher and better level. Pride would only come when perfection was won, and since perfection is unreachable for a mortal human and business, we always had something to strive toward. He never let us forget this.
Anyone who has ever surfed successfully knows there is a bit of an art to it – and that art is very much based in knowing how to time the wave. It is about preparing ahead for the wave to come.
And Al had a great sense of timing.
If you want to be a good business leader, take a little surfing lesson from Al.
A good surfboard has a delicate balance. It is all about the right weight distribution and center of gravity. The right equipment, balance, and positioning sets the surfer up for success.
In business, having a solid foundation sets the company up for success. This applies from the literal Board (of Directors) to leadership at all levels. The right team, the best tools, and focus on the center of gravity (mission and values) is the start of a successful run.
Establish a Strong Foothold
Do you know the real reason surfers wax their boards?
Many would assume it is to make the boards glide better in the water; but that is not the case. They wax their boards so they don’t fall off! The wax gives them traction.
Do you regularly wax the boards of your business?
Do you have up-to-date systems and policies in place? Do you have the support you need to hold the business steady as it moves forward? Are your people prepared and equipped for the ride ahead?
Time the Wave
You have heard the saying that you must crawl before you walk. The same holds true for surfing. You start laying flat on the board, paddling carefully to position yourself just right for the moment the wave comes. You train your eye to spot the wave as it forms, and you carefully anticipate its timing…because when it comes to surfing, timing is everything.
Al was an entrepreneur. Like any entrepreneur and any entrepreneurial team, we started out crawling before we walked. We didn’t hit that million-dollar day on the first day in business; but we knew the wave was out there and that at some point in the future, it would be ours for the taking.
We worked very hard to position the company for that day.
This is marketing and development. It is anticipating a need or want before it is needed or wanted, and preparing for that day. It is planning and development; testing and re-testing. It is getting into the current of your ideal clients – forming meaningful relationships, earning trust, asking questions to determine how you could serve them best.
It is knowing…and timing…the wave.
Ride the Wave
You carefully rise to the occasion, brave enough to stand; yet humble enough to not stand too proudly. You ride with the wave, not against it, and it will carry you far.
Riding a business wave takes that same level of courage, humility, and finesse. You must be moving in the right direction and maneuver strategically; and the wave will begin to carry you.
Neither business nor surfing is for the faint of heart.
A wave will overtake you…or carry you. And it all depends on YOU.
It depends on whether you are working with the wave or against it. Working with the wave means you are getting into the flow of it, as opposed to fighting the current.
In business, you can work with your team, your market, changing technology, and the economic environment; or you can fight against them. You can adapt your business to the future or stand rigidly in the current and be crushed.
It is about the direction you face and the current you embrace.
Is your business progressive enough to ride the wave of the future?
Catch the Next Wave
One good ride is never enough for a good surfer. There is always the next wave. There are skills to be mastered and challenges to be met.
The same is true for business, and that is the lesson Al taught us…to ride the wave but not so long as to miss the next one.
Ride the wave…but not too long.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.