Cartoon by Henry Jones on instagram
After I graduated from college, I took one year off and decided to learn how to skateboard. My life has been led by unpredictability ever since I can remember. I could never have imagined I would end up working at an impact company as my very first job. I’m loving the ride, but since I was caught off guard, I needed all the help I could get. Thankfully, skateboarding has proven itself very useful. Here are 6 (of many) lessons skateboarding has taught me about the adult world that I am now facing every day:
1. Do not expect immediate success
This first one is a classic, right? Yet, I’m constantly trying to remind myself of this lesson.
I would never expect to land a kickflip on the very first time I step on a skateboard, so why would I expect to know how to do everything on my first job? Skateboarding, just like starting a new job, takes time, commitment, and a lot of patience. Most beginners skateboarders don’t realize that because when we see our role models success, we don’t often see the work it took them to get there. Set your goals and respect your timings, with time, practice and work we will get there too!
2. Always learning, always evolving
A few months ago, I randomly grabbed a book that was in my office. It was “Good to Great”, and inside that book, there was one quote that stood out for me: “I never stopped trying to become qualified for the job”. This is a perfect metaphor for the skateboarding world. We are seeing a really fast evolution of skateboarding, we don’t know where it will get us, there are so many tricks, skills and combinations that skaters are in a constant learning process. Continuous learning is the necessary attitude for a first job: let yourself learn with the clean conscious that there’s not an end in sight, it’s always possible to improve and remind yourself to learn something new often.
n the confidence to try again, learn new tricks and enjoy the ride (not to be corny… the ride really is more enjoyable when you’re not constantly killing your shins on every trick attempt).
4. Take risks… but measure them
In Portuguese, we have this saying that goes like this Quem não arrisca não petisca. The literal translation would be something like the one that doesn’t take a risk, doesn’t eat. Skateboarding is all about risks, and you will indeed end up eating concrete on 50% of the risks you take, but it’s also true that if you are not willing to take risks, you never learn anything new and will never improve. Nonetheless, it is always important to understand your limitations and measure the risk you are taking. It is vital to be aware of your own capabilities before trying to heelflip a set of stairs (or in my case, before trying to write a professional article for Medium).
5. You do you
I grew up watching other skaters, and I often have the urge to try to skate like them and I never, not even once, looked good doing so. Be unique. That’s what skateboarding has taught me. To be honest, the real lesson was “be unique because you look ridiculous trying imitate your favourite skater’s style”. In both skateboarding and business, there is never only one right way to do something. Allow your friends, co-workers, role models, to inspire you and push you to the next level but always try to understand what works best for you, be aware of your strengths and express yourself.
6. It’s always better with a team
One of the coolest things about skateboarding is that you do not need to be with anyone to be able to skate, yet it is so much more fun to have friends around to cheer you up and help you. Working has proven to be just the same: I’m responsible for my own work, and when I need someone, my team is there to hold my hand and help me out. As beginners, we will need some guidance, support, and a few yeewws* from time to time, whether it is at the office or at the skatepark.
I would like to enlighten how the “passion” factor has the biggest influence on both my skateboarding and my job. And if there’s something skateboarding should teach everyone is to try to do something just because you love it, it will make everything else better.
Have fun, go skate!
*A typical form of cheering in the skateboarding community is to yell “yeeww” whenever you see someone doing something cool. Beginners, both in skateboarding or when starting a new job, need a lot of “yeewws”. If you’re working with someone who’s trying really hard, remember to “Yeeww” them every now and then.