Four Leadership Lessons from my Last Surf Session of 2022

Tutti Taygerly
5 min readDec 29, 2022

It was Boxing Day, a day for family, but the swell and tide made it perfect conditions to surf a secret spot along the Pacific coast south of San Francisco. I hadn’t been able to make the last outing and had been envious of my friends’ stories of the long rides on this isolated break. The clincher for my decision to go? … the spot is named Dragons.

Lesson One: Find Your People (… who make you better)

I’ve surfed with these friends for years, a group of designers, data scientists, and tech people with a shared love of the ocean. One of us had a passion for finding secret spots. He researches and scopes them out for years and then, when the conditions are just right, he’ll suggest a field trip. We’ve been known to rappel down cliffs in search of the best, most uncrowded wave. We share an easy camaraderie, the ability to catch up with each other’s lives and work even if it’s been months since we’ve seen each other. And we share the thrill of watching others catch a beautiful wave or wipe-out in a punishing hold-down.

I’m the worst surfer in the bunch, amongst the oldest and the weakest physically. Yet surfing with these friends makes me better. They keep me going when it’s hard to motivate getting up at 5am and pulling on a wetsuit to jump in the freezing Pacific.

There’s never a bad session… even if you can’t make it out to the lineup through pounding Ocean Beach waves or when you get skunked. These are my people, my tribe of crazy adventure-seekers. Surfing with them pushes my limits, and expands my horizons to try secret spots.

So look for the people like you, who support you in new adventures and bring out your bravest self. And hope that you too make them better.

Lesson Two: The Best Way to Get from A to B Might not be a Straight Line

That secret spot, Dragons, is a reef break. You sit at the take-off point and choose to go left or right down this peaky A-frame. The best surfers ride down the line and then paddle back around to the starting point. I mostly wipe out and end up in a pile of whitewash maybe a swimming pool’s length away from the take-off point. The seemingly fastest way back…



Tutti Taygerly

Leadership coach & champion of difficult people; designer of human experiences; ex-Facebook; surfer, traveller, mom;