9 Lessons That Surfing In The Jungle Taught Me

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For the last few seasons I’ve travelled across Australia to Indonesia. A place I hold very close to my heart since first travelling there in the mid 90’s with my beloved mother.

I love the difference in culture but what pulls me back every single time as a surfer is the warm water, the left hand reef breaks and constant barrels.

For the past 3 years, and August this year was no different, I jumped on the express boat across the Java Straight to visit one of the most beautiful and serene hidden corners of the world, known as G-LAND.

G-land sits on an untamed jungle loaded with small surf camps and an epic reef break called Grajagan. Some of my favourite things about this almost untouched surf break is that it lacks tourist hot spots and fancy restaurants. Each and every time I travel to G-Land I leave inspired and with a wealth of new life-changing experiences.

Here are the 9 lessons I learnt whilst riding waves in the jungle.

LESSON 1: Everyone Is A Teacher

There is so much we can learn from each and every single person we meet along our life journey. On my recent trip in August, I was fortunate enough to surround myself with lots of different people from very diverse backgrounds and life experiences. The one thing we all had in common was the willingness to teach each other and learn from each other. We laughed and were humble and allowed each other to share our thoughts and experiences in a non-judgemental environment.

LESSON 2: Commitment

To get the most out of this journey we call life, we must be 100% committed to creating the Life, Business, Adventure, Relationships and Surfing experience that we so badly want. There are so many people that I have crossed paths with in life who want amazing results yet are only 80% committed to creating it. There is a brilliant quote “without commitment you cannot have depth in anything, whether it’s a relationship, a business, or a hobby”. And I truly believe that.

LESSON 3: Show Respect to Gain Respect

Any surfer would know that second to none feeling of when you wake up for an early surf check and the waves are PUMPING. 10 out of 10 waves rolling through don’t happen often but when they do – it can turn the most balanced humans into frothing animals.

In G-land we woke up to clean 8-foot swell lining up with perfect peaks from Launching Pads and spinning all the way through Speedies – the ultimate thrill for those who make it.

Generally with perfect swells the take-off point is the same for every wave that rolls through and surfers know there is a “code of conduct” for who gets the next wave. In the line-up, the quickest way to become unpopular and disliked is to paddle to the inside (out of turn) to take the next wave and/or drop in on another surfer.

Luckily, on this perfect morning in G-land, 10 of us sat in the line-up watching the horizon, laughing, smiling, sharing stories and sharing a mutual respect towards each other for who’s wave it was next. We were all there to have fun and enjoy the ride of 10/10 waves as a group.

LESSON 4: The Best Surfers Are The Happiest Surfers

All stoked out!

At times, surfing can be a hard sport to enjoy. It can be egotistical with people chasing their identity through the best wave, the best trick and the best ride. Localism can also prove be a problem in some cultures and regions.

When I’m out enjoying myself like the majority of other surfers alongside me do, sometimes there’s the odd surfer who has lost touch of why they started such an amazing sport in the first place, FOR FUN.

Not all days were perfect in paradise and this day I paddled out with only 4 other people in the water. There was one particular guy yelling abuse at us, and attempting to put fear into us other surfers by going crazy for “perceived” missed opportunities. In every sport I follow and include myself in I always support the underdog, and for this reason, me being me, I supported the surfer being attacked the most and told the angry birds to move on or have fun! After all the happiest surfers in the water are the best.

LESSON 5: We Must Love Our Planet

There is so much noise in the political and religious space right now that some humans have lost touch with what is most important. The single most important thing we are dealing with right now as humans on this planet is “global warming”.

Right now, (as you are probably aware) we have some major environmental issues that surround us daily (including the coral bleaching on our very own Great Barrier Reef) that’s why I am giving 1% of profits earnt at The Future Phase to the 1% for the planet.

LESSON 6: Tip The Boat Captain

At G-Land the local way to get to the break is to walk the shoreline to the top of the reef and paddle out. This will get you to the infamous key-hole a take-off spot that offers up long, super fun, workable walls that are more prone to cater for a big turn rather than what’s further down the reef – waves that are a lot more hollow and a lot more shallow.

But some days, you have zero energy, you are surfed out and need the easy way in – unlike the die-hard Grajagan veterans – you take the BOAT.

I definitely recommend taking the scenic route out and back in, but in the case you need to use the boat because your exhausted, your arms are jelly or the waves have defeated you – “Make sure you tip your boat driver” Every season I stay at Joyo’s and for allowance you are given beer and food tokens. Every time I jump on the boat I give the driver my beer tokens. The smile on their faces is priceless! Give it a go when you travel there. I promise it will be worth it.

LESSON 7: If You Want To Play, You Gotta Pay

Everything was going our way. We scored epic waves all week, no-one had been hurt, we experienced the best rolling barrels anyone could imagine and even survived some of the biggest most powerful waves I’ve ever experienced. For this reason, I felt I had cheated the system BIG TIME.

During our stay, we surfed other spots with no-one else out, just me and my best-friend, The sun was going down and I had an overwhelming feeling of it not being fair, that I had taken way too much from this surf experience than I had given.

Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely times were I took my underwater breathing skills to the next level. But aside from that and loosing a couple of booties, I felt like I owed the ocean something.

Plus, I am a huge believer in ALWAYS giving first and ALWAYS receiving later. And for once, this week I felt like I kept receiving amazing experiences and meeting incredible and unforgettable people including the Bobby Dazzler (the 60 year old charger who kept us inspired with his humour, personality and incredible water-man ship which has to be seen to be believed.) All this receiving didn’t sit so well with me.

On the last day and last surf of the trip, I was heading back to shore from surfing low tide at Money Tree’s. The afternoon surf was awesome with just Bobby and Bruno one of my closest friends. As I paddled towards shore for the final time, a small set came rolling in and caught me off-guard with me on the inside. Of course this is never good, it left me with no choice but to throw my board aside, scrambling around and landing heel-first on a sea urchin. The result was a dinged board and 8 or 10 black needles from the sea urchin in my right foot. This was the exact moment where I said to myself “If You Want to Play, You Gotta Pay” and in the end I was so thankful that it happened on the last day and not the first!

LESSON 8 – Love Your Friends

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel with family, friends and colleagues on some of my most memorable journeys, and on this particular trip to G-land it was no different as I travelled with one of my longest standing friends Bruno (25 years and counting).

During my adult life I have had friends and acquaintances come and go which I am sure this is probably the same for all of us. Some of my closest friends are those who have been around forever and a day. They know the struggles we had when we were younger, they know what has and hasn’t gone our way and most importantly they know us, and love us for who we are.

In G-land, between waves, my friend Bruno and I talked about everything, from experiences, life challenges, highs and lows and so much more. It was during these long conversations that I was ultimately inspired by the long-standing camaraderie that we had been building for all these years!

We built more memories on this trip, including me watching Bruno ride one of the biggest waves of his life, a wave that looked like it was straight out of the film, “The Endless Summer”. These memories will be cherished forever, which I personally rank way above any financial or business success I have or will achieve in life. WHY? Because life is all about the little things, the relationships we form along the way and learning how to love your friends!

LESSON 9 – Adventure Provides Perspective

Recently I walked away from the I.T industry . I worked hard in a business I built with my business partner from scratch and enjoyed all the successes both through finance and business.

After walking away from the corporate world, and just before leaving for this awesome trip to Indonesia an incredible opportunity presented itself to me. It was an opportunity that aligned my passions and my beliefs. But It was confusing and overwhelming and I left for G-land unsure of what I should do next.

Going away, getting back to nature with daily challenges was exactly what I needed. A week without T.V and digital disturbance and just human communication and nature, I was able to get a great amount of clarity and perspective on what to do next.

I distinctly remember lying on my bed, in the middle of the jungle staring up at a spinning fan and being totally connected and at one with myself.

It was exactly where I needed to be, to think through the choice I was presented with. In the end I realised, it wasn’t a choice at all, it was simply a matter of taking action and doing it. So that’s what I did. And The Future Phase was born! And it’s for this reason that I am so passionate about incorporating adventure into my speaking and mentoring engagements, because adventure is a MUST for all of us, and I believe that as humans we need to disconnect with the noise of society and connect with Mother Nature.

So after a big week at G-land, I left on a new mission, and knew I was right where I needed to be in life. None of this would’ve been possible without the unbelievable job that Joyos Surf Camp do to create memorable surfing experiences where you feel a part of the family and so incredibly taken care of. Without giving up your own privacy.

Joyo’s is my absolute #1 go-to destination for best left hand barrels, combining the volcanic reef and unforgettable waves. Epic earth-connecting experiences and living and breathing in the jungle air.

I love the staff, they certainly are second to none, not to forget the yummy food, awesome rooms and the entire experience. This is the reason why I have and will continue to go back each and every year! I recommend you do it too!

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Brent Valle

I've always loved to create and this passion has led me to live life as an entrepreneur. I'm the founder of the Future Phase a leadership and mentoring company that includes adventure into it’s programs to give it’s members the kick-start and perspective they need to accelerate them rapidly to their goals. I love to speak and my personal story surpasses the professional one. I'm raw, open and honest and share openly in such a way that inspires, motivates and educates an audience to take action. Family comes first and I love surfing and snowboarding and going on adventures with new people. I'm a passionate philanthropist who loves to help youth, active environmentalist and aspiring author (currently writing first book).


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