Fear of failure is an emotion that affects everyone. Whether you’re a business owner who worries about how your operation will survive in a changing economy, or just someone in love who agonizes over the thought of having your heart broken.
If you’re a big wave surfer like Greg Long, you fear the unthinkable. And the unthinkable happened on December 21, 2012.
On that fateful day, he and several other surfers were facing some monstrous waves at the Cortes Bank, an underwater seamount 100 miles off the coast of California. Greg wiped out and endured a three-wave hold-down before his body was pulled, unconscious, from the water and carried back to the boat by the team’s rescue crew.
Greg survived to share his story of what was essentially a non-fatal drowning. He even managed to overcome his fears and insecurities and get back in the saddle, or—in this case—back on the board, but it wasn’t easy.
It took some soul searching, some changes in perspective, and about a full year before Greg was finally able to shake his doubts and surf again with the same confidence he once had. Here are a few of the pointers he shares as he looks back at his road to mental recovery.
Control what variables you can and forget about the rest.
In surfing, as well as in life, there are elements you can control and there are those you cannot. Greg’s advice to anyone dealing with fear or anxiety is to only spend your time focusing on that first category.
In Greg’s case, for every hour he spent surfing, he spent many more preparing and training (both mentally and physically) and making sure his equipment was in good working order. He knew the wipeout would come. His job was to work as hard as he could so that, when it did, he could be confident in knowing he was prepared for it.
Know that there are other possible outcomes, and they aren’t all bad.
A large part of Greg’s fear stemmed from the fact that, for too long, his entire life had revolved around surfing. It was all he knew and the only life he had ever imagined for himself. When something consumes that much of your awareness, then the thought of losing it is devastating.
Almost losing his life caused Greg to reevaluate his priorities and what he was living for. After a while, he realized that, while he still loved to surf and wanted to continue doing it, his true happiness was found once he struck a better balance that incorporated things like spending time with friends and family and pursuing other hobbies and interests.
But don’t question.
Accepting the fact that there may be other possible outcomes is good. Constantly questioning why certain things happen is bad. No matter what life throws at you, know that it’s for a reason. Work towards finding a solution to adapt to your new circumstances and move on.
Greg never questioned why he suffered such a horrific accident or adopted a “why me?” mentality. Instead, he accepted his new reality and sought to figure out exactly what he was meant to learn from it.
Be grateful for your circumstances, no matter what.
It may sound strange to think about being grateful for tragedy or failure or heartache. But that’s exactly what Greg did after his near-fatal accident. He was keenly aware of the fact that he had no control over the obstacles he was facing. He only had control over himself and how he tackled them.
Greg knew that it wasn’t those outside factors that contributed to his happiness. His happiness came from within. Greg made a conscious decision to embrace his new circumstances, and the result left him happier than he ever was when his life was consumed by surfing.
With these tips, anyone can begin making strides towards overcoming their fears of the uncertain or unknown. Change is inevitable. Hardship is possible. But behind it is a lesson to be learned and a new future that awaits you.
Featured photo credit: surfing-926822_1920/StockSnap via pixabay.com