William Liao

September 10, 2021

Surfing

While at the beach in San Diego last week, I became obsessed with watching how surfers handled wiping out. 

For the more experienced surfers, there would always appear to be a moment at the end of each wave where they knew they were going to wipeout. And instead of fighting the inevitable, they allowed their bodies to gently fall from the side of their boards into the ocean only to emerge moments later (even they did with grace), eager to take on the next wave. 

It occurred to me that any surfer keen on becoming a better surfer would probably do well to learn how to wipe out well. The more comfortable they become with wiping out, the more waves they can ride. The more waves they can ride, the more subtle yet invaluable data they can collect on how to approach the next wave better. And the wave after that, and the wave after that…

What’s the significance?

Let me rephrase: any person keen on becoming better at [insert skill] would probably do well to learn how to fail well. The more comfortable they become with failure, the more challenges they can take on. The more challenges they can take on, the more subtle yet invaluable data they collect on how to tackle the next challenge better. And the challenge after that, and the challenge after that…

See where I’m going with this? 

Failing well is a skill.