Brian Lee


Lessons from Skateboarding

I fell in love with skateboarding in my 40s. Some say I am too old to skate, but I don’t think so. Many people work in very physically demanding fields until their 50s or so, like soldiers. Of course, people in mid-life won’t be like teenagers, but there is still a lot left in us.

I think we owe it to ourselves to seek challenges and opportunities to explore our abilities. The technical nature and physical aspects of skateboarding give me great ways to let off steam, focus on the present, and truly enjoy getting healthier, stronger, and more physically capable.

Lesson 1: How much do you want it?

Skateboarding hurts. Learning a new trick means I have to overcome both mental and physical challenges. Conditioning and training my body to perform a trick is always more difficult and takes longer than I expect. Taking a “slam”—when you fail a trick, fall hard, and hit the ground—happens a lot. It’s bearable once or twice, but when I take slams for hours on end because I want to learn the trick, it becomes a tremendous challenge, both mentally and physically.

Skateboarding has taught me to ask, “How much do you want it?” I believe this lesson applies to everything in life. It is important to set priorities and have a strong desire to achieve your goals. This idea aligns with the book “Think and Grow Rich,” which emphasizes using strong desires to guide your mind and body toward your goals.

Lesson 2: If you try a trick long enough, you will eventually land the trick.

Skateboarding is difficult partly because it uses muscles and joints in the body that we don’t often use while maintaining balance. Depending on your skill and experience level, learning and executing a trick — skateboarders call it “landing a trick” — can take some time.

Take my journey to learn the kickflip as an example. A kickflip is a trick where you rotate a skateboard clockwise in the air by combining ankle and knee rotation. My lack of physical training, along with my fear of injuries, has made learning the kickflip take me well over three years. I also had many serious ankle injuries that prevented me from walking many times. I often thought of giving up, but taking well-timed breaks reminded me how much I wanted to learn the trick. Now, I can land kickflips from time to time, but I’m still not great at it and continue to work on it.

However, this experience has taught me that even what looks impossible and fear-inducing can be accomplished with persistent effort.

Copyright 2024, Brian Lee