Letting go

Posted by  Daryl Cook —November 15, 2007
Filed in Anecdotes, Fun

I was waiting for a flight the other day and I happened to catch 5 minutes of a surfing documentary featuring Kelly Slater, 8 times world champion. So what has this got to do with a blog on business narrative I hear you ask?

Well, when talking about his 7th title win, he tells an amazing story. I’ll try and retell it (although I’m sure that I won’t do it justice) …

Expectedly, Kelly had surfed his way right into yet another championship final contest. However, he was beaten comprehensively in the first heat of the final, even though he thought he had surfed particularly well. Angry with himself, and distraught at the thought of losing the title, he had to come up with a strategy to make an assault on the title in the next two rounds.Realising his predicament, he took some time to ponder the situation. There was clearly a lot riding on the next heat. He wondered whether he should perhaps ‘try harder’. But he soon realised that this would not work, he had to do something more. He had to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.

What did he decide to do? He made a conscious decision to ‘let go’-to stop trying so hard and to go out there and just have some fun!

And the result? You guessed it, he came out and scored two perfect 10’s in the next two rounds, with some awesome rides, one where he visibly nearly comes off the board twice! Just incredible.

What amazing courage in the midst of all this chaos to trust his instincts and follow his heart and not his head. I think there is some important wisdom in this story that is applicable to other areas of life.

When was the last time you or your organisation just ‘let go’ and had some fun? What were the results?

There is a trailer for the documentary here if you’re interested.

About  Daryl Cook


  1. We have been thinking a lot about ‘letting go’ and the ideas of Otto Scharmer’s book ‘Theory U’. This has resulted in some great conversations about trust, emergence and preparation. There is definitely something magic about the ability to let go and let come.

  2. Robyn Ciuro says:

    This reminds me of something said in a meeting a few years ago – working harder never fixed anything unless lack of effort was the problem in the first place. Yet how often, when things are not going as we would like, do we immediately tell ourselves “Well, I’ll just have to work harder”? Much better to take a deep breath, let go and see what happens.

  3. A great story, Darryl. I think it also ties in the notion of “flow” that elite athletes achieve. At the weekend, I facilitates a presentation and used a lot of story telling. Participants laughed a lot and seemed to enjoy it. Hopefully, the fun facilitated their learning.

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