Most Sharks are Actually Just Dolphins or Seals


Most of my surf sessions are between 5 and 7am. The conditions are perfect, there are no crowds, and it’s a great way to start the day.

But it can be scary… Because when you’re in the ocean before sunrise, it’s completely dark, you’re all alone in open water, and all you can think about are SHARKS!

Something touches your foot?… Shark! Hear a splash behind you?… Shark! You get that dodgy feeling that something is watching you…

But after a little while, the sun slowly starts to rise. The water gets lighter, and you realize things are just fine. There are dolphins, seals, and it’s quite beautiful around you. You’re safe.

Surfing is fun. And you’re always glad you paddled out.

Shark surfing

One of my dawn patrol sessions – taken nearly 10 years ago!

In the Real World:

This surfing analogy is kind of like navigating new scary things in the real world. It could be traveling in a new place, meeting new people, starting your own business, speaking in front of a large crowd, or taking on a tough problem at work.

Unknown waters play tricks on your mind. You think there are sharks everywhere!

So it’s important to remind yourself that the universe is not against you. Most ‘sharks’ are just dolphins and seals. New people you meet are on your side. They want to help you get ahead and achieve your goals in life.

Unknown waters are usually beautiful and safe places. You just have to jump in to find out.


My “Boiler Room” Moment:

It was Monday morning, 7am, and all the LA sales reps were packed into the conference room. The company was notorious for having a ruthless, cut-throat, and competitive sales culture. And I was about to witness it all first hand, my first week on the job…

The sales manager, a 27-y/o legend, walked up to the front of the room as he finished his 4th can of Red Bull. The room fell dead silent and all eyes were on him. He started the meeting by yelling at the top of his lungs… “If you don’t want to be here today… get the FUCK out!”. It was like that scene from the movie Boiler Room.

He continued yelling and grilling people for the next hour, and all I could think was “I don’t belong here. I’ve made a huge mistake”. I went back to my cubicle and sat there wondering if I should quit that day, or wait a few weeks before they found out I was a fraud and fired me.


“I don’t belong here. I’ve made a huge mistake”


I stuck it out… and survived just fine.

Things changed drastically over the next few weeks. Teammates, co-workers and managers all stopped by my cubicle to introduce themselves. They offered me help. They offered me mentorship. Everyone took time out of their busy schedules to coach me. Everyone had my back.

“Win together, lose together” – This was the company motto.

What started out as a shark tank, ended up being a fun and life-shaping work environment. Experiences I’ll never forget. I learned to thicken my skin, and no longer run away from scary situations.


Call To Action: Seek Discomfort.

Seek Discomfort - Sharks!It’s natural to be scared of the unknown, because bad things might happen. But keep in mind, GOOD things happen too. And usually, the good things have a way higher chance of happening than anything bad.

So run towards the stuff that scares the shit out of you. Recognize your fear, respect it, then move forward anyway. Just do it! Doing scary things leads to awesome moments in life you’ll never forget.


OK, now who’s ready to meet me tomorrow morning at 5am for a surf? Chances of getting bitten by a shark are only 1 in 9 million.


4 thoughts on “Most Sharks are Actually Just Dolphins or Seals

  • Good stuff dude! I did a post recently about diving with sharks and I came to the same conclusion as you. I’m not really on their menu, no one has ever died doing this dive, so I’m going to dive and enjoy it.

  • Hi Joel, What a great post! I love your analogy about sharks in life–that sometimes the things we fear are really harmless. I’m inspired! Cheers, Dragon Gal

    • Cheers! I’ve actually got a situation next week that I’m a little scared about. My mind has been naturally thinking of ways to avoid, cancel, back out, or stay away from it. So I’m gonna force myself to go ahead, because I know it’s not going to be as bad as what I’m picturing. In fact, it’s probably gonna turn out to be awesome. Most things do!

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