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  • Paul Pilling

Ride the waves or wipe out??

Updated: Aug 12, 2021


So what am I on about this time?

Well I took a week off to to a staycation with the family in Scarbados (that's Scarborough in case you didn't guess but just sounds better )


So whilst there I turned off everything social media or work related, good for the mind body and soul. Having two young boys I wanted to make the most of our time and make memories not capture and share them on a device for the world to see. It was whilst teaching them to body board, standing the cold sea, I saw my eldest surf in for a bit and then got totally wiped out!!! As I ran across to check he was okay I had a blinding flash of inspiration for an analogy around transformation and change. It is like learning to surf or body board, is very similar to delivering a successful transformation, hear me out.


All change regardless of the size and scale needs to first start with understanding the as is:

  • environment

  • So were the waves to big or too small? - is it right for the change you need to deliver?

  • Was the area too crowded with other try to swim, surf, bodyboard? - what initiatives are already happening that may stop you or get in your way

  • Is the tide coming in or going out? - are you constrained by time or a looming deadline like regulatory changes.

  • Is the seabed rocky? - Have you made sure you have done a deep dive (sorry) so you don't get scuppered by underlying processes or initiatives that have failed previously and left their debris behind?

  • tools

  • are the body board and wetsuit right for this environment? - Have you checked that you have the right systems and metrics to deliver the change across all areas or do you need to tweak?

  • Did I bring a towel and change of clothes? - Have I got everything I need to deliver this change what will I need after the change has started to be delivered?

  • skills

  • How can I show my boys or explain how to catch the right wave? - Do I fully understand the people and their experiences and skills to ensure they understand what is expected of them, and it is reasonable?

  • How do I give them the confidence they can do this after a wipe-out? - How do I ensure that they don't quit of fear failing after the first set back


Hopefully now you get my analogy how transformation and change is like surfing.

  • There will be times when you feel out of your depth,

  • when the change isn't the right change at the right time due to other factors

  • when you think you are getting it then stumble, fall and have to get back on board

But, when you surf that first wave in the thrill and feeling of accomplishment draw you back into the water to try again, try a bigger wave.


In life and work there is always another wave always another change, it is up to you to decide are you going to be consumed by it and wipe-out, or are you going to ride that wave and see it to shore before paddling out for the next one?



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