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Machen MacDonald: Catch the WAVE of success

Lately when people ask, “How are you doing?” I will share with them, “I am currently riding the wave.”

Which evokes the next question from them: “What wave?” or “What do you mean?”

I then go on to explain that I surmise life to be similar to surfing; we can either be riding the wave, wiping out on the wave or paddling like heck to catch the wave.



When we get a chance to enjoy riding the wave, it usually comes after paddling like heck to catch the wave.

No doubt, there can be a lot of paddling and missing of the waves. There certainly can be plenty of wipeouts on waves caught.




In the case of running a business or being in sales as a profession, paddling can look like prospecting for new clients, learning a new skill whether it be marketing, mastering social media or a new software application.

Trust and accept that paddling will eventually lead to being able to ride the wave.

Trust that wiping out is also just part of the mix. You won’t land every sale. Employees will quit at the most inopportune time, clients will change their minds, pull out of the deal and demand a full refund when you need to make payroll.

It’s important to always bring forth your best, regardless of what wave segment you find yourself.

To learn and grow yourself regardless of whether you are paddling, wiping out or riding is the key.

To help you find your best self no matter where you find yourself in relation to the wave, think — W.A.V.E.

W: Where am I really? Take inventory of what is actually going on in you and around you. If you can systematize your paddling by automating and building in predictability, you may actually be riding the wave and not paddling at all.

A: Analyze what needs to be done to be able to expand and enjoy the segments of your wave riding. Chances are, you will learn more from your wipe outs than anything else. Leverage these questions —  What may have caused the wipeout? What can I do to prevent it from happening again, or at least enjoy riding the wave a bit longer? Paddling leaves clues, too: What am I learning about my ability to paddle to position myself in order to catch the wave more often than not? Even riding has learning opportunities. What is now possible for me while I am riding the wave?

V: Visualize what success looks like in the episode you find yourself. If you are in paddle mode: How can you paddle more effectively? What tools and resources can help you leverage your energy and effort? Do you have to actually paddle. or can a jet ski pull you out to where you have the best chance to catch the wave? If you are wiping out, perhaps a safe recovery is what you need to visualize. Ultimately, the ideal vision is riding the wave all the way into the beach. What is that analogous to for you in your profession?

E: Execute. The bottom line is you need to bring your “A” game each and every day. If you don’t, eventually the person that does will enthusiastically take over cashing your paycheck.

In the work world, the super stars are rewarded handsomely for their productivity which comes directly from executing on a desired vision. Just showing up, punching in, sucking up air, and punching out doesn’t cut it.

This week, notice where you are in relation to your wave. Are you getting crushed by it? Are you exhausted from paddling to catch it? Perhaps you found leverage or a rhythm in your paddle? Or, have you done what you must and now you’ve earned the opportunity to successfully ride it in?

Remember, waves don’t last forever. They come and they go. W.A.V.E and adapt as best you can.

Surf’s up! Make it up, make it fun and make it happen!

No. 1 bestselling author Machen P. MacDonald, CPCC, CCSC is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley, CA. He helps business people gain more confidence and clarity to live their ideal life and be more productive. He can be reached at coach@probrilliance.com and 530-273-8000


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