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  • Writer's pictureStuart Sheldon

What’s The One Thing You Really Want To Do Well … But Cannot?

Kelly Slater in the Barrel

What’s the thing you wish deeply to do well, but just can’t nail?

When not dreaming of flying like Peter Pan, I dream of surfing. Not just surfing, but ripping, Kelly Slater style. Deep, stand-up barrels. Cutbacks that thwack, as my board smacks the lip. I can surf enough to maintain my dignity in the lineup … but just. I’ll never be good. That’s just a fact.

Kelly Slater @ Boost Mobile Pro 2006

Still, each time I paddle out, I see in my head, bright as day, me doing what you see Slater doing above, balletic slashes, complete with tai chi arms and sun-dappled spray. I hold that vision, as I carve up the face and prepare, right up until the time that my body cuts back, yet my board continues forward like a runaway pony. Oh well …

Point is … THE VISION IS THE POINT. We need that perfect goal always, no matter the outcome. No one shoots for the outer blue ring; every shot you take in life is at the bullseye. 

So, see yourself driving the golfball 400 yards right down the middle. See yourself running your first sub-7-minute mile. Slaying that PowerPoint presentation. Fly casting into the heart of that hidden nook. Baking that perfect soufflé.


The satisfaction lives in the doing, average as it may turn out. Because, let’s face it, Kelly Slater is an outlier. So is Tiger Woods. And Thomas Keller. We’re just regular folk … BUT, we have the exact same dreams as the rockstars. And that’s good. Because it keeps us hungry and honest.

Morocco Surf Trip with the Boys

Morocco Surf Trip with the Boys

I cherish my too-rare surf sessions with my buddies. The predawn adventure. The smack talk. The adrenaline of an approaching set. The spaghetti arms. And the exhilaration when I do actually show Neptune what I’m made of. Surfing has brought me the highest joy at my successes and the fiercest rage at my repeated failures. I’ve learned, at last, that anger was misplaced and wasted on a false sense of my own ability in that one highly difficult pursuit. I’m excellent at many things. Surfing is not one of them. Damn!

Soul Satisfaction!

Soul Satisfaction!

Regardless, I’ll surf till I’m a geezer on a longboard with jiggly skin hanging down where my biceps used to be. And, I’ll always approach the lip with a clear vision of snapping it like a rattail, ever waiting for that loud POP … and still stoked when I blow it.

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