The Data Warrior

Changing the world, one data model at a time. How can I help you?

How’s your surfing?

I read this today on one of my favorite blogs – Zenhabits, and it definitely spoke to me:

We are not walking a path, but surfing a sea.

Most people look at goal setting as picking a destination, then figuring out a path to get there. That assumes you’re walking on land that will change very little, and that while you will have unforeseen obstacles, you’ll be on stable ground and the destination won’t move. That’s not at all true — life is more like the sea, ever changing with no fixed paths or destinations, with swells and currents and waves that change everything at every moment. The ultimate skill, then, isn’t setting a destination (goal) or a path (plan), but surfing. In surfing, you take whatever waves come, learn to judge the waves as they come, learn to ride the wave as it changes, not as you planned. It’s going with the flow (literally), and changing what you do depending on how the flow changes. (via » Why We Overplan :zenhabits.)

For years, every time someone asked about how I got to where I am in my career, I often found myself at a loss to give them a seemingly satisfactory answer.

What Leo wrote above articulates really well what I have been doing (unconsciously) most of my life – going with the flow. I have only been on surfboard once (yes, even data warriors surf) but the analogy fits really well in my mind. (BTW – A good downhill ski run or shooting some white water fits too)

It “feels” like the right answer.

Oddly (or not?) it fits with a classic quote from my martial arts hero Bruce Lee: “Be water”

Pretty Zen, right?

So what does this have to do with data modeling, data warehousing, etc?

Mostly I have found in doing agile (or agile-like) projects, the team needs to be like water, or really like a surfer on the water, and go with the flow through the sprints and iterations.

Changing directions at a moments notice as the users needs and priorities change.

Embrace the change.

Doing so without judgment or expectation.

Flow around the obstacles and blockages – or risk crashing on the reef!

So, let go of all the goals and set-in-stone project plans. Embrace the flow and see where you might go.

Who knows, you might hang 10 on the biggest wave of your life!



P.S. If you want to learn to be a better data surfer check out the Data Vault Learning Portal and learn how to implement the most agile data modeling technique around – Data Vault.

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6 thoughts on “How’s your surfing?

  1. Thanks, Kent. timely for any number of reasons. I like Leo’s post and will think more about living life (as well as working) agilely.

  2. Hey Chip! Glad you found it useful.

  3. Mike Schrade on said:

    Hi Kent…I agree! Ironic that I tend to forget to go with the flow most often when I am “in the moment”. I always liked this phrase, which is similar in concept, from the Tao Te Ching:
    The mark of a moderate man
    is freedom from his own ideas.
    Tolerant like the sky,
    all-pervading like sunlight,
    firm like a mountain,
    supple like a tree in the wind,
    he has no destination in view
    and makes use of anything
    life happens to bring his way.

    Cheers, -Mike

  4. I actually read that Zen Habits post, too. It’s a great blog! I liked your additions to it a lot, too.

    Great post!

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