Apr 17, 2022

Happy Fire Friday, 🔥

This week, a very dear person in my life shared a book with me called "Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea", by Jaimal Yogis.

It's a story of the author's one-of-a-kind, sort of hippity-dippity journey. Yogis ran off to Hawaii with nothing but a copy of Siddhartha (another must-read) and enough pocket change to buy a surfboard. It's absolutely wild. Dude goes from communes to monasteries, from Cali, to Hawaii, to the shores of New York... all on the way to finding Zen, himself, and a big wave or two.

This is one of those books that you read slowly. Yogis uses surfing and the sea as beautiful metaphors for life.

You'll find a line that speaks to you, and it just causes you to close the page for a moment and reflect. 

I wanted to share one of those with you today.

During Yogis time at the monastery, he was being mentored by a man named Rom. Rom was one of the many people that Yogis enlisted to teach him to surf.

(from the story)

"No one can teach you how to surf," Rom often told me.
We might talk about what the waves were doing, but never about surfing technique. Rom just let me figure it out. Yet, over time, I gleaned a couple essentials:
                   1. Understand your environment as much as possible.
                   2. Fear nothing.

Let's talk briefly about the first part.

1) Understand your environment as much as possible.

How much film do you really watch? How much of the game do you really know? When learning to surf, Yogis' mentors would have him sit and study the waves for hours before attempting to ride them. Where do they start? How will they break? What's this wave called vs. that wave?

 If you can't explain complex topics in a way a non-basketball person could understand, then you don't know the game.

Keeping this one short, but if you want to call yourself a PG, you'd better do the work. You're the general out there, it is your responsibility to lead, and you can't effectively do so if you're lost, yourself. Learn the waves.

I want to spend the most time on number two:

Fear nothing.

In surfing, if you stand up afraid, you wobble and you fall. It's impossible to ride a wave with a shaky foundation.

This made me think of a collegiate athlete I coached a few years back. This isn't her real name, but for her protection, let's call her Frida.

Frida was a monster.

Seriously, she physically could do anything you asked her to do. We (the coaching staff) ended up just throwing random stuff in at the end of workouts just to see if she could do it.

I'd go through some advanced footwork, she do it on the first try.

Toss up the ball and tell her to tip it in on the other side, she'd dunk it just because she could.

One time we were talking shit to each other and I told her I'd buy her a boat if she made a backwards halfcourt shot on her first try. 

And this asshole looked me right into my eyes as the shot went in.

She's texted me every year on that day to ask her if I have her boat yet. Which is weird because I've sent her a new Origami one every year. 

In my opinion, Frida could have easily been a heavy contributor to a team overseas--something I shared with her whenever she shared her aspirations with me.

She had great size, great skill, and she could move through bodies so effortlessly that it was like poetry in motion.

But the thing that always held Frida back?

She never went to a tryout.

She never called a coach back.

More than anyone I've ever met... Frida was afraid to fail.

And I'm not talking the regular fear that we all have of failure.

I'm talking about the kind that holds people back from potential. The kind that is so crippling that it turns greatness into "what ifs".

The kind of fear that causes people to go half-ass in practice because that's why they lost during 1-on-1.

They just weren't going hard, or they were just goofing around. So it wasn't because they failed, but because they weren't trying.

It's easy to fall into that fear, because we're sort of programmed that way.

Our ancestors used fear to protect them--that feeling only emerged when real danger was present.

Now, as evolved beings, we feel that same fear,  but what we often fail to realize is... the danger isn't there any more.

It certainly sucks to try for something and not make it. I've failed at so many things I've seriously lost count.

I missed the cut. 
I got an F on that paper.
I opened and closed a business within a 6-week period.
I didn't get into the school I wanted to.
I wasn't the right person for the job.
I blew the layup.
I lost the game.

I've said this before, and I'll come back to it again:

It is impossible to look good and get better at the same time. 

What Frida didn't realize was she failed every day, and she was still a killer. 

She'd lose the ball in workouts. Small fail.

She'd miss a shot. Small fail.

She'd trip over the halfcourt line getting back on defense. Large fail.

In basketball, and in much of life, fear exists only in the mind. I'd go as far to say failure does too.

I wish at that point in my career that I knew this already so that I could have been a better mentor to Frida. (Who, btw, is doing just fine these days as a start-up software engineer. God's favorite.)

I wish that my outlook on failure was not that it was terrible, but that it was inevitable. 

I've never met a single person who has not failed.

I have met many people who would rather not try for fear of failing.

Hear me when I say this. 

Fear nothing.

Trust your foundation.

You will succeed only because you will fail.

The world is waiting.

Shooters miss.


Shooters Shoot.

I'll see you next Friday. 🔥