Jaimal Yogis, San Francisco-based writer, fellow surfer, husband, and father is about to release his new book ‘All Our Waves Our Water’. I was thrilled to get a sneak peak into his work - a unique amalgamation of life experiences offering a perspective and way about thinking of who we are in the world. His tale is told through reflecting on his journeys through surf and healing meccas of the world - India, Indonesia and San Francisco to name a few. Strangely, this is the first book of his I’ve read, though certainly not the first time I’ve been inspired by my talented neighbor across the Bay!
As a coach, I write a lot to impart lessons to people on leadership and life. So in that spirit, I thought I’d pull out a few that stuck with me the most and that I thought were relevant to those realms. But first, some props for Yogis and his style.
Yogis has a gentle and humble writing style, which made it easy to read. Not only that, he has a sense of humor. I found myself laughing out loud a lot while reading through the book. His self-awareness, honesty with himself about his own internal struggles, biases, dilemmas, shortcomings, reconciliations and triumphs is evident throughout the book. For example, he starts off his tale by giving you a glimpse into his own background - the wandering, curious, spiritual hippie nature of his family lineage - using it as a launch pad to take us on a journey from his forays into love, self-healing, spirituality, making a living, to questing for that perfect moment in space and time found “in the tube.” For a globally aware, curious surfer or soul seeker, this tale can’t help but draw you in. He is also aware of the aspects of surf culture that drives us more towards ego-based living and away from enlightenment, commentary I think the surf world needs more of – more introspection and less “conquistador narratives.” It is this awareness from which Yogis offers the reader a richer perspective than those from your average male-authored surf tale.
The book is full of nuggets of wisdom, often accumulated through Yogis’ own learnings crossing international borders and forming his own deep, intimate, cross cultural relationships with friends, surfers, spiritual teachers and even 'surf eccentrics' local to the San Francisco Bay. As I read the book, I jotted some of my favorite quotes to reference in my own work with leaders. For example, he shares the wisdom of Sati, a young Indian woman whom he met and fell in love with in his 20s (and spends the early part of the book trying to reconcile their break up and make sense of his feelings). He relays Sati’s words to us: “aversion to the elite—be it surfing or art or writing or politics—was the same trap as chasing the elite. They were both attempts to identify solely as a tribe—always in juxtaposition to the other—rather than seeing ourselves as nuanced individuals who are all part of the human tribe, and crossing between subtribes constantly.” This so clearly articulates one of the struggles, among others, Yogis seeks to make sense of in his own life and writing career through the book. It’s also a struggle so relevant to leaders or individuals trying to pursue excellence in whatever they do. It challenges us to think deeper as well of how we show up in the world, what we chase, and why we chase it. I could write an entire piece on just this one sentiment.
He offers us another pearl of wisdom as he writes: “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ” As a coach, this really rang true. Some of the best coaching I’ve ever had was from totally beginner coaches and this quote made me realize why. Newbies often exercise a genuine curiosity that sometimes gets lost in the expert’s mind of knowing. Newbies don’t have strong neural pathways set in their “knowing” and so they can’t help but be curious. This curiosity then translates into many possibilities. This is a reminder too of how sometimes the best ideas do not come from the people who have been there the longest and already have a way of solving the problem, but from newer, fresher perspectives. It makes us think, where do we need to stay more curious in our own lives? Where do we assume, make up stories right away, and perhaps limit our own possibilities as leaders, as humans?
The last quote I’ll mention, is a sort of re-cap of his work, and the sort of spiritual fascination with the “tube” woven throughout his book: “But the tube, as I’ve been trying not-so-subtly to point out, is just the metaphor. I’ve really been using this whole book as a way of discussing nonduality, the divinity that unites us, and how that might be integrated into this world of strip malls and melting ice caps.” All I will say is that if you’ve ever been tubed, you’ll doubly appreciate his wisdom that moment in time can teach us about our way of being in the world. Curious where he goes with this? Guess you’ll just have to give it a read and find out for yourself!