Earlier this month on vacation, I found myself in Huntington Beach, CA. (better known in some circles as “Surf City”).  My visit just happened to coincide with the finals of the U.S. Open Surfing championships.  Curious too see what this kind of sporting event would be like, my brother, who I was visiting, took me out onto the Huntington Beach Pier in time to watch the men’s final event. It had come down to the two top surfers – hometown native, Brett Simpson and South African, Jordy Smith – the number one ranked surfer in the world.

The two highly respected surfers paddled out to see what waves they might catch – as thousands of fans and on-lookers watched from the beach and the pier.  The only problem – no waves.  The ocean offered nothing – or at best very little.

Smith and Simpson spent the first 15 minutes of their 35 minute heat waiting for something to ride.

I found myself pondering this dilemma and drawing the obvious parallels between these two surfer’s dilemma and what we all face in our everyday lives – waiting and hoping for the right wave.

As the heat wore on, Simpson made his move with whatever decent wave came his way.  From my novice eye, I was amazed at what he was able to do with waves that appeared tiny and impossible to leverage.  Smith waited and waited – finally grabbing, too late in the game, whatever he could and was not able to execute.  Simpson’s heat total of 13.97 our of 20 topped Smith’s score of 8.33 making him the first back-to-back U.S. Open winner since 1985-1986.

The hometown hero edged out the legend and as one commentator said, “He turned garbage into gold – he was smart, not lucky.”

This experience has stayed with me as a great reminder that when we are “lucky” enough to get the right waves, things smoothly and seamlessly go our way.  But more often, we have to do the very best we can with the opportunities that come our way – and those opportunities may be hard to see, challenging to surface and require an extraordinary amount of persistence and commitment but in the end, the victory is somehow sweeter.

Work with the waves that come your way.