Living among tropical Asian beaches this summer gave me the opportunity to learn to surf. For a sport that appears so simple and straightforward, it's surprisingly difficult. The learning curve is steep and the mistakes are quite unforgiving. Even the slightest miscalculation, lapse in paddling, or loss of balance can result in waves slamming you underwater in a jumbled heap. Regardless, it was a fun and rewarding experience, one that I recommend to anyone who wishes to try it.
Over the years, I've made countless analogies between life and other activities: poker, weightlifting, basketball, public speaking. Poker and basketball do a good job of covering the probabilities in life -- you get so many shots and expect to miss most of them -- while weightlifting and public speaking provide good metaphors for the gradual, painstaking process of overcoming fear and building confidence through repetition and discipline.
But surfing falls into a category entirely of its own. It's analogous not in mechanics or analysis, but in a philosophical, and dare I say, spiritual way.
In Bali, I spent two weeks with a good friend of mine who is a hardcore surfer. We hit the waves almost every day and to …