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Well, if I look at the patterns of my life in comparison, it has been one long exciting ride, with some major wipeouts along the way – ones that have nearly cost me my life, my marriage, and my sanity.

I have never personally dropped in at Mavericks or Waimea, but I have at Sunset on a big day. There are all levels of “big wave” riding. Just as in life there are all levels of risk. However, it doesn’t matter what size the risk really is, if you perceive the risk as life threatening. I have known people, even my next door neighbor, who had millions in the bank, but making a mere $5,000.00 decision to invest in something, would stress them to the point of exhaustion and discontent. Risk vs. rewards. I don’t have millions in the bank, but I have made $5,000.00 decisions to invest in my future, even with no money reserves in the bank.

Some of those $5,000.00 decisions were the best moves I have ever made, and others have caused my family great hardships. Which way of living is right?

To most people, my life looks great and one that you would want to have yourself. Even to me most of the time it looks great: great wife, great kids, beautiful neighborhood, and lots of cool achievements along with having a job that I love and inspiring others to greater heights.

But, then reality sets in. Many times, we live month-to-month, and just one wrong move or hiccup can cause us to become challenged to meet our needs. This kind of stress can quickly take us from bliss into anger and discontent.

The “big wave” of patterns begin…

I graduated from college and moved into a million plus home overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean – with a great surf spot that all I had to do was walk down the steps and jump into the water. How did I do this? I traded my services as a tennis pro for the use of a townhome and became director of tennis at this complex. Pretty cool for a 22 year old kid who was newly married.

Bought my first home a year later and I felt I could “do no wrong.” Owned a couple of tennis shops and ran programs at several tennis complexes.

Two years later I’d sold that home and bought a second one, and we had my first son. Living the “American Dream,” right? One night in the middle of the night I woke up and I heard a voice deep within me ask the question, “if money was no object what would I truly love to do?”

The answer for me was “to explore the world and see how good of a tennis player I really was.” I lived in San Diego at the time, which was a mecca for great tennis. Since I was one of the better players in the region, I figured I could easily ascend the top of the pinnacle of professional tennis. We had a one-year-old son at the time, and I told my wife the next morning what I had to do. Since I didn’t want to drive from tournament to tournament with my family in a van, I came up with a plan. I was able to secure sponsorships, so we could fly to the various tournaments throughout the world I wanted to play. You see, in tennis you don’t just sign a contract and get paid by a team to play like you do in the NFL or in MLB. You pay your own expenses and play “qualifiers” to even get to the money rounds; a challenging task, not much different than dropping in on a “big wave.”

First lesson learned:

Players on the tennis tour are much tougher than college or local tournament players! My first tour I decided to play was the American Express Tour in Canada. In my first qualifying match, I was playing the best tennis of my life but I wasn’t crushing my opponent (who was from a country I couldn’t even manage to pronounce). We went to a first set tiebreaker and when I finally had a set point opportunity, I hit a lob over his head and thought for sure I’d won the first set. But, he ran back and barely got to the ball and hit it “between his legs” and right towards my racquet, as I was standing at the net. It hit my racquet and dropped into the net as I stood there in utter disbelief. I couldn’t figure out why this guy wasn’t giving up! Well, I didn’t win another game that match.

Although I eventually got myself into the “World Rankings” that year and played all over the world, it was at a great cost. Tour life was not ideal for my family, and my marriage crumpled at my feet.

Now, looking back years later and being married this time around for 28 years, I still find there are more lessons to be learned. But, that is what living is for, right? Life is not perfect, but real love and relationships with another is. I now choose love time and time again, and I am truly grateful for having the courage to ride the next “big wave.”

Moral of the story:

Life doesn’t have to be complicated and hard. And, as I learn to simplify my life, the ride is that much smoother. With clear vision, and the courage and discipline to stay the course, my life becomes a reflection of that vision and my old patterns and self-defeating habits simply fade into the sunset. Now, I enjoy another epic ride, but with far less “on the edge” moments. I am blessed and truly love what I do, even when the journey once again gets a bit stormy – because I now know how to calm the seas and create my every desire by taking the time to lay out a clear vision and plan, and then enjoy the ride.