3 Choices when things feel out of control

Do you sometimes feel like you have no control over anything right now, whether it be at work, home, or in your community? I get it.

But you DO have choices that can change everything! Let me tell you an important story about 3 choices…

The scene: I’m at a week-long surf camp in Costa Rica. Clean blue-green ocean water, sunshine, fresh fruit and friendly people, highly qualified surf coaches…paradise.

And I’m scared. Why?

Because I’ve found myself trapped between the safe sandy beach and the quick oncoming crushing waves with only a surfboard by my side.

How did I get in this position?

To explain, let’s get one hard truth out of the way. Those surf movies that show people cruising effortlessly along the waves, hair blowing in the wind (how did it even stay dry??), and beach music in the background…they are only sharing 5% of the story.

Most of surfing involves a great deal of physical effort and focused concentration. Before you can ride those waves, you first have to paddle on your board from the beach to that calm part of the ocean, known as “out the back”, the area before the waves start breaking or crashing down on you.

To get out the back requires a combination of strategy, patience, and quick action. And a willingness to feel terrified. At least when you’re a novice, like me.

Back to our story. It was day three of the surf camp and things were going really well. I was catching some great waves and actually standing up and riding them! I’m a surfer now…

Then the frequency of the waves changed — they were coming in much faster and crashing harder, making it almost impossible to get “out the back”. My surf coach was by my side, but still I felt fearful and alone in the moment.

Every wave either pushed me underwater for several minutes (actually only about 3 seconds, but it felt longer) or pushed me in the wrong direction – back to shore.

I felt completely out of control and that was VERY scary! (I ultimately said, “no way” along with an expletive, and went back to the beach).

It was that day, that moment, and the wise advice from my surf coach that taught me I’m always in control and have a CHOICE, even in the scariest of moments.

Coach Teale told me, when I find myself in that situation, I can do one of three things:

  • I can stay put in the crashing waves, until that set of waves pass and there is a calm period (usually only a few minutes). At that point I can paddle forward with less effort. But it does require patience and it can be uncomfortable. Ugh!
  • I can keep moving forward through the crashing waves by paddling hard and “duck-diving” or “turtle rolling” with each oncoming wave (two ways to get safely underwater and prevent a wave on the head). This requires lots of energy and determination, but with a reward at the end.
  • Or I can go back to shore and rest, wait, and retry when ready.

ALL of these choices end up with the same result.

You get to where you want to be (out the back) AND reap the reward of riding those waves…with the wind in your wet matted hair and the soundtrack of Jaws in your head! Dry hair is overrated.

I’m thankful to Coach Teale for the great surfing advice that I can take with me anywhere, anytime!

Perhaps these 3 choices can help you as well, whether it be in your personal life, work situations, or in the ocean.

margit brazada poirier

Hi, I’m Margit Brazda Poirier

I founded Grants4Good in 2009 to help nonprofit organizations and businesses find and get grants. Since then, I’ve helped thousands of people raise millions of dollars for programs via private coaching, customized grant writing training, and my course All About Grant Writing.

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